Custom Wine Bottles with Wine Greeting

Bottles of wine are such an easy, go-to gift, and if you’re like me, you often pick a bottle based off of the label/name. But sometimes, the right wine (and label) just doesn’t exist. For instance, what do you get your friend for Christmas that says “you’re more badass than a fictional character, and I hope you can Netflix and chill this holiday season”? WineGreeting.com to the rescue.

WineGreeting lets you entirely customize a bottle of wine. You can make a custom label or engraved bottle, and you even get to choose the color of the wax seal! You also get to choose between red, white, and sparkling wine, which means you can customize a bottle of bubbly for special occasions.

While the options for customization are fairly standard, I thought I would make one a bit geekier. I took their “Holiday Lights” option and turned it into a Stranger Things reference. The etching was deep and gorgeous on the bottle, and the red wax just made it look even more epic. 

The wine itself was a very drinkable and delicious red blend, and I now have a bottle I want to display long after the wine has gone.

If you’re looking for an awesome custom gift, I highly recommend WineGreeting. And if you use promo code “GEEKYHOSTESS” you’ll save $15 off your first order!

Let me know what custom bottle you’d make in the comments!

Thank you to WineGreeting for providing a bottle of wine for me to review. 

The Best Gifts for a Geeky Secret Santa

So you’ve been given a name for a Secret Santa, and your recipient is a bit of a geek. You want to get them something fun, but don’t know much about their interests and don’t know where to start. Never fear, The Geeky Hostess is here! Whether you’re not-so-geeky or are just into different fandoms than this person, you should be able to find something easy and inexpensive that they’ll actually like right here. And bonus: All of these gifts are available through Amazon Prime, so they’ll be here in time for your holiday party.

For the Tabletop Gamer

Does this person have miniature figurines or dice on their desk? Do they mention the phrases Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, or RPG? Then the safest thing to get them is a set of dice. Dice is like jewelry to us: there are so many gorgeous options out there, we can never have enough, and they make great gifts. Get them this set of metal dice for a gift they’ll treasure. (Bonus points if you claim they’re “lucky dice” and will always roll high!)

 

For the Doodler

Adult coloring books have become a thing. And it’s the perfect gift. It’s something that I’ve personally never purchased for myself, but always secretly wish someone gave to me. A silly luxury that someone can enjoy during holiday travel or boring conference calls. Plus, it’s genuinely supposed to be calming and relaxing. This particular coloring book is one of the most popular. The images are beautiful, and there are bonus activities/puzzles to solve. Gift this with some really nice colored pencils and you’ll be set.

 

For the Book Nerd

If your co-worker’s nose is always in a book, or you see them updating Goodreads often, then help them prepare for hygge. Hygge is a Scandinavian term for staying in, being cozy, and curling up with a good book. It’s basically an acceptable form of hibernation that happens around the holidays. Encourage some hygge-ing with this delicious smelling candle. The Paddywax Library candles have scents based on different authors. Charles Dickens’ scent is perfect for the holidays, but a variety of authors are available. Pair this with a gift certificate to a local book store, some cozy socks, or some nice tea or cocoa.

 

For the STEMinist

Is your recipient a developer, scientist, or another STEM profession? Did they encourage the whole office to go see “Hidden Figures” last year? They need this Women of NASA LEGO set. The set is selling out everywhere, so you’re paying a tiny bit of a premium on Amazon, but it’ll be worth it for the look on their face. Between LEGOs, NASA, and recognizing important women in the field, it’s got everything they could hope for.

 

For the Animation Aficionado

Is this person the type who would love to relive childhood with a big bowl of cereal and a full day of Saturday morning cartoons? are they always watching Cartoon Network and talking about Rick and Morty? Get them some cartoons from their childhood (or possibly before their time, if they’re a young whipper-snapper.). This Nicktoon collection includes 40 episodes of all the classic Nickelodeon cartoons: CatDog, Hey Arnold, Rocko’s Modern Life, Ahh! Real Monsters, and Angry Beavers.

 

For the Escape Room Champ

If your recipient is always trying to get the team to do an escape room together, this is the gift for them. The Werewolf Experiment is an escape room in a box that will let them recreate the experience at home. I played the first version of this game and it was terrific. So terrific, that Mattel took it and made a version that will be on toy store shelves everywhere. the puzzles are challenging, the writing is great, and it makes an excellent “escape room” experience for a group.

 

For the Fantasy Fiend

Would your recipient rather live in a world of dragons, unicorns, and mermaids? Turn them into a mermaid/man while keeping them cozy with this adorable mermaid tail blanket. Perfect for the co-worker that’s always a bit too chilly in the office as well!

 

For the Theatre Lover

This person probably already has all of the swag for their favorite show, and they listen to the soundtracks on Spotify non-stop. So get them something they may not have: Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway. This book tells them the history of Broadway in a super interesting read. Tell them it’s like The Producers meets Smash. They’ll know what that means.

 

For the Mouseketeer

Bring some of the Disneyland magic home with this Mickey Waffle Maker. They look just like the ones they’d eat in the Happiest Place on Earth! (Plus, you’re practically inviting them to make waffles for you in the future…) If they’re more of a Disney princess fan than a Mickey fan, then they NEED this Chip Mug in their life. I’ve seriously just stared at it while squealing for the past few minutes. Who hasn’t wished they had Chip?

 

For the Cocktail Connoisseur

If they’re always talking about their bourbon collection or visiting the nicest cocktail bars, get them something to elevate their drinks at home. This bitters bar set has something for any type of cocktail, and Hella Bitters is a delicious brand.

 

For the Foodie

Fondue is so old-fashioned. Even though it’s been around for hundreds of years, Raclette, or the act of scraping copious amonts of hot cheese directly onto your food, has become a food trend in the US in the past couple years. You’ve probably seen videos of places scraping melted cheese directly off the wheel. Well, this Raclette Grill is a way to do the trend at home. It’s a “cheesy” gift that will be very much appreciated!

 

For the Social Media “Guru”

If this person has tons of followers and spends more time taking pics of their food than eating it, then they need this. It’s a Selfie Ring Light that doubles as a phone charger. It’ll go over their normal phone/phone case and make all of their photos even better. It even has three different light levels, so it’ll be perfect in any situation! Just make sure they tag you in those flawless pics.

 

For the Sci-Fi Fan

The new Star Wars movies is coming out, and they’ve already got their tickets. All they need is a lightsaber. And while they’re fun, they’re not super practical in our everyday use. But this Lightsaber water bottle is! It’s perfect for their desk, the gym or carried around in their bag, and it will help them show off their fan status everywhere.

 

For the Video Gamer

If they have an Xbox One or a PC, get them a copy of Cuphead. The game is a run and gun platformer with art stylings inspired by 1930’s cartoons. Everything is hand-drawn and SO cool looking. The game is snatching up tons of awards for best indie game/art direction in 2017, so you’ll look super in-the-know if you give them this.

 

For the Wizard in Waiting

Does your recipient often claim their letter to Hogwarts got lost in the mail? Help them live that wizard life with this beautiful Pensieve memory set. It includes a journal, a wand pen, and two memory vials, all in a keepsake box.

 

For the Political Activist

Your recipient can exercise their rights and their body with this RBG Workout book. Do the same workout Ruth Bader Ginsberg does twice a week. Spoilers: It’s not easy!

 

For the Comic Book Reader

Turn their office into a comic book with these cute talking bubble sticky notes. Pair it with a comic strip notebook and some colorful markers for a fun gift!

 

For the Film Buff

Give the film buff their very own cinema light box. It’s perfect for their desk or home–they can let you know their mood, what movie they’re about to watch next, or let the office know their short review of the latest blockbuster.

 

For the Horror Fanatic

This graphic novel is full of haunting stories in a fairy tale setting. Seriously, these tales will stick with you. I like horror and had to put the book down. Late some nights, some of the stories still pop into my head… The book is beautiful and scary, a great gift for a horror lover or anyone who prefers the Grimm tales to the Disney ones.

 

For the Comic Con Attendee

This Bag of Holding: Con Edition was made by geeks for geeks, and includes pockets and places for everything you need at a con. It’s a bit pricier than the other gifts in this list, but for the right recipient, it’s totally worth it.

Fellow geeks, help out these Secret Santas: what gifts are you wishing for this year?

(Items featured above may contain affiliate links.) 

Geeky Holiday (And Every Other Day) Sweaters

I had an amazing Thanksgiving with my family, but as soon as the day was over, it was time to break out the holiday decorations, make lists of presents, and put on my amazing new Wonder Woman sweater from Fun.com. While taking a break from eating leftovers, I made my Dad take some pics of me so I can show it off in all its glory.

This sweater is amazing. I was concerned that it would be cheap or flimsy, since “ugly holiday sweaters” are normally just a novelty, but it’s extremely thick, warm, and well-made. It’s my go-to sweater for chilly nights and lounging around. Plus, while it’s definitely a Wonder Woman sweater, the design itself is so nice, it can be worn around non-geeks as well.

And it’s also a great sweater for…sneaking pie. I had to test it. You know how it is.

Fun.com has a HUGE amount of holiday sweaters available, including plenty of DC-licensed ones (and three different Wonder Woman sweaters!). If superheroes aren’t your thing, they’ve got sweaters for Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Alf, Star Wars, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Disney, Elf, Bob’s Burgers, Rick and Morty, dinosaurs, and a ton of ridiculous Christmas and Hanukkah designs. Seriously. They have over 150 different sweaters.

Will you be picking up a holiday sweater this year? Which one is your fave?

(Thanks to Fun.com for letting me review this sweater! Check out all of their holiday sweaters here. ) 

Geeky Black Friday/Small Business Saturday Deals 2017

Ok, listen. Retail therapy is real and scoring a ridiculous deal gives me the most amazing natural high. So I’m going to share with you some of the best deals I’ve found for the upcoming Tofurkey Day weekend. Whether you celebrate Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, you’ll find some sweet, sweet deals below. And best of all? The list is mostly independent, geeky businesses. That way you can feel good for scoring a deal AND helping out a small business during the holidays! Enjoy, and let me know in the comments what deals you get this weekend!

Ban.do: 25% off everything from November 23-26 with code ITSBFBABY.

Breaking Games: 20% off everything from November 24-27 with code BFCM2017.

Cakeworthy: 40% off regular priced items on November 24 with code BLACKFRIDAY17.

Calliope Candleworks: 10% off everything from November 20 – December 1. (No coupon needed.)

The Colorful Geek: 30% off everything on November 24 with code BLACKFRIDAY30.

Emily McDowell Studio: 25% off everything from November 22 – 27 with code STUFFED2017.

Espionage Cosmetics: Various deals throughout the weekend.

FemmeCraft: 30% off everything all weekend with code BLACKFRIDAY2017.

For Fans By Fans: Guess a code to save up to 75% off. Now through December 1.

The Geeky Hostess: Free shipping with orders of $12 or more from November 22-27 with code FREESHIPPING.

Hero Within: 25% off select items on November 24. No code needed.

HerUniverse: At least 30% off everything. No code needed.

InIt Gear: 15% off everything from November 24-27 with code BFCM15%OFF.

Jordandene: 40% off everything from November 24-27 with code BFCM2017.

StemBox: 25% off everything on November 24 with code SCIFRI.

ThinkGeek: New Doorbusters every day for 12 days straight.

Tiny Hands: Up to 35% off everything. The earlier you get there, the better deal you get!

Uncanny Brands: 25% off all Star Wars products on November 24 with code STARWARS.

WILDFANG: 25% off sitewide.

The Ultimate Vegas Weekend for Geeks

When you think of Vegas, visions may pop up of gambling, flashy lights, nightclubs, and impromptu marriage. But there is much more to Sin City, and you can have a great time without blowing tons of money or doing anything you’d regret. I recently organized a trip for a group of 11 friends, and wanted to share some of the best activities we did. Adding any of these into your trip plans will guarantee an epically geeky time.

Alibi

If you’ve ever wanted to take part in a heist, this is the show for you. Part scavenger hunt, part interactive show, you make your way around Downtown Vegas finding and interacting with characters as you try to help “The Mastermind” with his heist. It’s a goofy good time, and a great bonding event for everyone in your group. You will solve puzzles, do goofy things, and laugh a lot.

The 2.5 hour “show” also includes a meal and two alcoholic (or non-alcoholic) drinks throughout the run, making it a great deal and a fun mid-day activity. We chose to do it in the afternoon, and then stayed in Downtown Vegas after to keep exploring the area.

The Nerd - Premiere Las Vegas Bar, where Cosplay Meets Cocktails

The Nerd (and the rest of Neonopolis)

As soon as we walked into The Nerd, we knew we were home. The bar has props and costumes from famous films, signed posters and comics on the wall, cosplay for sale, a bowling alley, and a huge board game and video game library. You can play games and bowl for free while you hang out. Plus, their bartender makes amazing drinks and the prices won’t break the bank. The Nerd often has themed nights and viewing parties for popular shows, and cosplayers get a discount on drinks. You HAVE to check it out. (And while you’re in Neonopolis, make sure you check out the epic vintage toy shop on the first floor. It’ll make you super nostalgic and you’ll want to re-start your TMNT action figure collection.)

No automatic alt text available.

Container Park

Go for the shops, restaurants, and people watching. Stay for the fire-breathing praying mantis.

Countdown Las Vegas Escape Room

If your group enjoys puzzles and is relatively sober, an escape room is a great mid-day activity (and a fun way to beat the heat!). Countdown Las Vegas offers a variety of rooms, and we tried a classic: their Sherlock Holmes room. This escape room is extremely difficult with a 10% success rate. #HumbleBrag, this group defeated it, but with only 41 seconds left on the clock. If you go, let us know if you beat our time!

If you prefer your escape rooms to be more about the ambiance, I’d suggest their “Atelophobia” room. It’s a horror room, described as “part escape room, part haunted house” and uses an actor for a part of the experience. When we were there, a few members of that room left early and refused to go back in, because they were too scared. (This clearly just intrigued me further!) I would definitely try this room next time I was in Vegas!

Tournament of Kings

What if I told you there was a place where you could eat a medieval-style meal with your hands while watching knights joust on horses and maidens dance and also there’s pyrotechnics? You would buy a ticket immediately, that’s what. I refuse to go to Vegas and not go to Tournament of Kings. This was my third time, and it was just as much fun as the first. Between the meal and the entertainment, it’s one of the best values for a show on the Strip, and it’s legitimately great for all ages. If you’ve never been to Tournament of Kings (or Medieval Times, a similar experience), I would make it a “must” for your next trip.

What are your favorite geeky activities in Vegas? Sound off in the comments!

Some of these locations provided free or discounted tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions and words are my own!

Deer Lord: The Perfect Dinner Party Game

Thank you Deer Lord! for sponsoring this post. Grab your new edition of Deer Lord! social party game, available through Target retail stores starting July 30.

You know that feeling when you find the perfect party game, and it just makes you exclaim “Dear Lord!”? Well, meet Deer Lord.

Deer Lord is a social party game that encourages you to challenge your friends to “duels” (or silly dares) and “dupe” your friends by behaving bizarrely, but hopefully discreetly enough that they won’t notice. It just recently came to the US, and is now available in Target! (Have you noticed that Target has been rocking their game section lately?) The Target set will include the base game, as well as “Broadway” and “Gangsta” sets that include themed duels and dupes.

While you can easily play this game on its own, I wanted to throw a themed party around the idea of dueling your friends. And where else would you do that than the fanciest dinner party? (Exclaiming “Dear Lord!” whenever you catch your friends doing something out-of-the-ordinary was a ridiculously fancy bonus.) I emailed the following invitation to some of my most charismatic and daring friends:

And I began prepping the dinner party. I decided to go with a white and slate theme to tie into the board game box, and as an excuse to give everyone their own mini cheese plate.

I made name tags with toothpicks and stuck them into the individual cheeses. (I may have also embellished my friends’ names a bit. Because FANCY.) And a simple white table cloth and some candles added to the elegance of the table.

As they arrived, I greeted them at the door with prosciutto wrapped melon (literally the easiest thing to prepare and it looks SO fancy) and an Old Fashioned. They then found their place setting and were able to share their various cheeses with each other, and pair them with the cracker assortment in the middle of the table. At this point, we went over the rules of the game, looked at our cards, and began the challenges. We got so into the game, that it wasn’t until we were nearly finished that I remembered to serve the rest of dinner! (This is really why every great dinner party needs a butler or three.)

For dinner, we had salad in Parmesan cups, steak and broccolini, and some small cakes from Trader Joe’s gussied up with some caramel and chocolate syrups. My goal was to do the least amount of work and still have a wonderful meal. The item I was most proud of was the Parmesan cup salad. All of my guests were impressed with the cups, and they were so easy to make. You just put 2 TBS of shredded Parmesan in a circle on top of a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and place it in an oven heated to 350 degrees for 5 minutes. As soon as you remove it, carefully place the melted circle into the cavity of a muffin pan, forming a circular bowl. Let it cool, and voila! I was able to make these a couple hours in advance and put the salads together in minutes once we were ready.

But back to the game. Duels included things like “Who can do the most amount of push-ups,” “who can gargle the longest,” “who can come up with the best one-liner,” and “who can tell the most exciting story.” Dupes included “take a phone call,” “touch another player,” “ask another player about their family,” and “give a standing ovation.” My friend Liz took a phone call from her dad, and I “duped” her by asking how he was doing. Little did I know that she was also “duping” me by faking the phone call! This game gets into Inception-level layers of deceit.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the game in action, check out this video from Lark and Clam below:

What are your thoughts on party games? Will you be picking up Deer Lord? And do you think you’d be able to dupe all of your friends?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Skywalker Olive Oil: Fit for a Space Princess

Some of you may be familiar with the name “Skywalker.” It’s the last name of some characters from a space-themed entertainment franchise. Or perhaps you’re familiar with the creator of the Skywalkers, George Lucas. The namesake doesn’t end with fictional characters. Lucas has a well-known ranch by the same name that hosts a sound design firm, an inn, and even a vineyard and seven-acre olive grove.

That’s where the Skywalker Olive Oil comes in. Even if you’re not lucky enough to be able to stay on the Ranch, you can feel like one of Lucas’ personal friends for just $25. You see, while the wine has been available to purchase for a while, the olive oil was historically reserved for close friends and family (until now!).

There are two types of olive oil available, Il Convento sul Trasimeno for $35, and Viandente del Cielo for $25. I bought a bottle of the Viandente del Cielo on a whim, and I’m thrilled I did. Not only do I have a beautiful talking point for the next time I have guests over, but the olive oil itself is fantastic.

I paired the olive oil with some fresh ciabatta bread, and compared it to my typical olive oil, Trader Joe’s Kalamata Olive Oil. While the Kalamata oil is extremely strong and tastes purely of kalamata olives, the Viandente del Cielo was light, fresh, and complex. The website says that this oil “is a unique blend of Frantoio, Pendolino, Leccino, Moraliolo and Cipressino olive varietals, to which it owes its mild characteristics and notes of artichoke, straw and pepper.” You can definitely taste the pepper. The smell of the oil is very bright, and the taste is smooth with a fantastically peppery finish. I would highly recommend it!

You can find both olive oils at SkywalkerVineyards.com. Will you be picking up a bottle?

Which Meal Delivery Service is the Best?

If you’ve been on Facebook or ever listened to a podcast, you’re sure to have heard of Blue Apron. It’s one of the original Meal Delivery Services, a box of food delivered to your door, pre-portioned to create easy and delicious recipes. But is it worth it? And is Blue Apron the best service, or just the first?

 

I reviewed three different services back-to-back and ate a whole lot of home-cooked meals to give you the scoop.

 

Spoiler: Meal Delivery Services are awesome.

 

Pros:
  • I tried new things. New recipes, new foods, it got me out of my comfort zone and cooking rut.
  • I ate out less. Having a meal in my fridge ready to go in 30 minutes or less meant less impulse delivery/take out orders.
  • It saved time. I didn’t have to plan out my meals for the week or do a big grocery trip.
  • I spent more time with my husband. We agreed to make all of the meals together, which meant we had a fun activity to do together each day.
  • The meals are (mostly) portion-controlled. The meals only make 2 (or 4) servings, so I know I’m not over doing it. (Like I do every time I make pasta…)
  • The meals were good! The food was delicious and I was proud of a lot of what we created.
Cons:
  • It’s a bit pricy. The meal plans run around $10-11 a serving, so while it’s cheaper than going out to eat, you could definitely save more money by going to the grocery store and buying sale items/items in bulk .
  • There are no leftovers. While I like that it’s portion-controlled, I didn’t love that my fridge was fairly empty and I didn’t have as many options for lunch/additional dinners.

 

First of all, let’s talk about the process. You sign up for a plan, and then you are invited to pick a certain number of meals each week to have delivered to your door. You can initially personalize your plan with diet preferences, and then it will continue to send you weekly meal deliveries unless you skip that week. (It’s very easy to skip weeks, and you can schedule them out fairly far.)

 

Your box of food will arrive at your door on the day you specify, and then you’re ready to cook! The ingredients come labeled and with recipe cards, so you know exactly what you need for each dish. The meal plans assume you have some basics: salt and pepper, oil, access to pots, pans, and bowls, a cutting board and knife, and access to a stovetop and oven. The most important ingredient is a large nonstick pan (I’d recommend around 12″). A lot of the meals involve cooking everything in a single pan.

 

The recipes come with pictures (and often the websites have supplemental video) if you need assistance with cooking it. And then, voila! You’ll have a delicious meal in front of you in around 15-45 minutes, depending on the service you use and the dish you’re making.

 

Below are a variety of Meal Plans in alphabetical order with info on pricing, what makes their plan unique, what we made, and our reviews. When they’ve been available to us, we’ve also included promo codes, that will give you a discounted first box. I’d highly recommend trying a discounted box. You’re getting a great deal on a few meals, and it’ll give you a good idea on if you like the service or not. You can cancel any time! (Full Disclosure: Many of the promo codes are affiliate links, and will provide me with credit for future boxes or a small stipend. Basically, when you use them, we both win.)

 

Let me know in the comments which Meal Plans you’ve tried, and what your thoughts were!

 

$8.99-9.99 per meal
Get $30 off your first order with this link
TL:DR; It’s the most well-known for a reason. It’s a great first box and you’ll keep coming back to it.

 

What Makes It Unique?
Blue Apron was one of the first services and they’re continuing to adapt and get better as they grow. You get to choose between 8 meals each week, and they also offer wine boxes and any tools you may need for your kitchen.

 

Meals Tried
  • Spiced Beef Pitas and Garlic Lebneh
  • Seared Cod and Creme Fraiche Sauce
  • Taiwanese-style Chicken
Pros/Cons
+ The food was all tasty. Not the most amazing dishes in the world, but nothing was a “dud”. Great home-cooked meals.
+Portion sizes were perfect.
-They encourage you to wash and pat dry EVERYTHING and salt and pepper EVERYTHING. You really don’t need to do that.
-Meals can take up to 45 minutes to make.

Would We Get It Again? Yes. And we have!

 

$11.95-13.95 per meal
Receive a FREE dinner kit for two with this link
TL:DR; This is the quick, gourmet, and FILLING option. It’s the closest to dining at a restaurant in your home.

 

What Makes It Unique?
Gobble delivers meals that can be made in 10-15 minutes. This means some things are pre-made and most of the veggies are already pre-cut for you. There are 10 meal choices to choose from each week, and you only need to order a minimum of two different meals. Gobble also offers side dishes, desserts, and cocktail mixes for you to purchase ala carte.

 

Meals Tried
  • Focaccia Grilled Cheese (plus soup and salad)
  • Bistro Filet au Poivre
  • Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Cabbage Slaw
Pros/Cons
+It’s quick! Great for busy nights.
+These meals tasted the best out of all the kits we tried.
+-The portion sizes are HUGE. (This is a pro and a con. Great for hungry appetites or people who want leftovers. Not great for portion-control or diets.)
-You’re not learning how to cook a meal from scratch, so you won’t easily be able to replicate these dishes on your own.
-It’s slightly pricier than the other services.

 

Would We Get It Again? Yes. On a busy week when we don’t have time to make full meals.

 

$8.74-9.99 per meal
Get $40 off your first order with this link
TL:DR; HelloFresh may have the prettiest packaging, but the food lacks compared to other services.

 

What Makes It Unique? HelloFresh has the best packaging. Each meal comes packed in its own box that fits perfectly on the shelf of your fridge. You can choose between meat & fish or veggie packages, so it’s vegetarian-friendly. HelloFresh has a breakfast option as one of the 8 meal choices for each week. They also have a wine box and a store for kitchen tools.

 

Meals Tried
  • Shrimp Saganaki
  • Chicken Lo Mein
  • Winning Pork Medallions
Pros/Cons
+The packaging is wonderful!
+The various meal options (vegetarian, breakfast) were nice to have.
-The meals themselves weren’t the best. (It felt like the flavors were unbalanced.)

 

Would We Get It Again? Possibly, if a fantastic menu comes up. But we just weren’t super impressed with the meals.

Night Owl Mug Cake

We’ve all had those nights: the ones where you’re up in the wee hours, working feverishly on a new creative project. It’s pitch black outside, quiet inside, and the glow of your computer is lighting up the room. I’m normally a morning person, but a few times a year, I get a hankering to pull an all-nighter–usually when coding a website or working on a writing project. And no matter how excited I am when I get started, there’s usually a point in the middle when my mind is still racing, but my eyes start to droop and my stomach starts to rumble. I need a pick me up.

So I created the Night Owl Mug Cake, a quick a delicious treat you can make when the craving for something sweet, warm, and caffeinated grabs you. It’s the perfect excuse to step away from your project for a couple minutes, and can be made any time with items you most likely have in your pantry already.

I was inspired to create this by Gourmesso coffee. They reached out to me, wondering if I wanted to try some of their capsules for my Nespresso machine. (They’re delicious and cost 30% less than your average Nespresso branded capsules!) I love that you can use the machine to create one espresso shot in no time. It works perfectly for the single serving mug cake and makes prep/clean up super easy. But be warned, this means this mug cake is caffeinated! I use one of the capsules meant for the short/espresso function, and for this cake I used one that has a caffeine level of “7.” Use whatever caffeine level you feel you need, and if you don’t have a Nespresso, you’re welcome to substitute espresso/coffee however you normally make it.

Ready for a cozy and caffeinated treat to keep you going late into the night? Let’s get started.

Night Owl Mug Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A caffeinated chocolate mug cake to get you through those all-nighters!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3 TBS Flour
  • 2 TBS Cocoa Powder
  • 3 TBS Sugar
  • ¼ tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 TBS Espresso
  • 1 TBS Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 TBS Oil
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • Whipped Cream (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all dry ingredients into a mug. Mix together.
  2. Add all wet ingredients into a mug. Whisk with a fork until everything is well mixed.
  3. Microwave for 90 seconds.
  4. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles, and enjoy!

Isn’t that easy? Make sure you enjoy it while it’s nice and warm!

Working on an all-nighter with a group? Make a batch of my Epic Win Cupcakes in advance for a caffeinated kick. Looking for something a bit more healthy? My “Healthy Gaming Snacks” Pinterest Board has a bunch of great ideas!

Cake Decorating Trends for 2017

As I said in my last post, one of my resolutions this year is to learn how to properly decorate cakes. So I thought I’d do a bit of research on the hot trends in cake and cupcake decorating. Here are some of the hottest decorating trends for 2017, in no particular order:

Naked

Naked Cake

This style of cake has been around for a couple years, and it’s still gathering steam. Bakers are learning that no one really likes tons of fondant, and that a cake can look elegant and beautiful on its own. This cake is more difficult than it looks to make, because your cake and icing layers must look good. (Although you can play around a little bit with decor like flowers and berries to disguise anything imperfect.) I can just imagine a cake like this for a Hobbit-themed party! (Cake by Miss Ingredient.)

Geode

Geode Cake

This is one of the coolest cakes I saw in 2016. Originally created by Rachael Teufel of Intricate Icings, this entirely edible cake is a classy way to show off your love of science. The geode is made of rock candy and accented with gold flecks. The idea looks extravagant but is fairly easy to do, which is why you’ll see a lot of copycats in this next year.

 

Metallic

Gold Sequin Cake

Speaking of gold flecks… Many wedding trend experts are claiming that metallic cakes are still a hot thing this year. And it’s no surprise. With a variety of tools (edible spray paint, edible paint, and edible gold flecks) available, you can get a wide range of lux looks easily. (Learn how to make this gold sequin cake at TheCakeBlog.com.)

Over the Top

Over the Top Cake

Yeah, sprinkles do make it better. And so does candy and cereal and additional baked goods and… Yeah. People get a bit carried away with their cake decorations. AND I LOVE IT. I’m obsessed with this over-the-top decadent trend. Just looking at this cake feels like the most fun party you’ve ever been to. I can imagine one with tons of candy being perfect for a Wreck It Ralph themed party, and one with tons of rainbow/technicolor making the perfect “Lisa Frank”-style throwback birthday cake. (This “Hero Cake” can be ordered from Unbirthday Bakery.)

Drizzle Cakes

Drizzle Cake

If you check out my Pinterest board, you’ll see a lot of this style there. Why? Because it’s relatively simple and makes every cake automatically look drool-worthy. Plus, it can work with almost every trend mentioned above. Drizzle over a naked or metallic cake for an added oomph, or add sprinkles and candies on top to make it absolutely ridiculous in the best way. This is first on my list of cake decorating skills to master. (Learn how to make this cake at TheFirstYearBlog.com.)

 

Want more decorating inspiration? Check out my new Cake Decorating Pinterest board. And let me know in the comments what trends you’re most excited about!