Weekend Wanderings

Food, Quick Read, Reviews, Travel

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12 hours in Ellensburg:

First Stop – Oyama Sushi.  Yes, I know it is odd to eat Sushi inland, but I promise it was excellent and fresh.

Second – Umtanum Falls.  A very easy stroll, except for the ice, that leads you to the rocky outcrop on top of a falls.  We decided to make our stroll more fun with a wager, that the last person to slip and fall buys the other two the first beer.  Luckily and not so luckily, I was the first to go down.

Most Favorite – Iron Horse Pub.  Local beer with an attitude.  Their slogan is, “You’re Welcome”.  With a double IPA called Double Rainbow, a stout appropriately named Irish Death and their signature hefeweizen, High Five Hef, you’re bound to fall for their sassy charm and excellent craft beer.

Last but not least – Valley Cafe for dessert and espresso.  Known for their key lime pie, chocolate ganache and creme brulee. There’s no better service in town 😉

Two great coffee shops in town are D&M Espresso and Koletty’s Coffee.  I love D&M for their home made soups and pastries and from the suggestion of a friend, Koletty’s white coffee is a must try.

Ellensburg is frequently visited by road trippers on their way to the Gorge over the summer and is a good middle point to stop for a break on the way to Idaho.  Hopefully these suggestions will come in handy!  Happy adventuring to all.


Last-Minute Homemade Gifts

Food, Holidays, Quick Read, Recipes

If you’re anything like me, you either:

(a) tend to do things last minute, or
(b) are cheap. I mean… money-conscious?
(c) both of the above.

So for those of us who fit that description, or who simply still have some gifts left to get and who enjoy a homemade touch, read on for some of my favorite homemade gift ideas. These are super simple and inexpensive, and can probably be made with things you already have on hand.

Quick and easy homemade gifts

1. Flavored coffee syrups

Guys, you would not believe how easy coffee syrups are to make. I make myself a batch of vanilla syrup for my coffee every few weeks, and it literally takes five minutes of effort.

Here’s what you do:

  • Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in saucepan
  • Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and stir until sugar dissolves
  • Stir in 1 teaspoon of any flavoring you like (i.e. vanilla extract, peppermint extract, almond extract)
  • Let cool and then store in an airtight glass container

I purchased these glass bottles at my neighborhood kitchen supply store, filled them with flavored syrups, and stuck some pretty labels on them. Definitely a popular gift with coffee drinkers.

Store the syrup in the fridge and it should stay good for several weeks.

(image source & peppermint syrup recipe)

2. Handmade jewelry

Depending on your level of craftiness, you could do a lot in this department. Personally, I have less crafty talent than Martha Stewart has in her pinky finger, but I still managed to make the bracelet pictured above.

Search around on Pinterest, find some pretty DIYs, and hit up your local craft or bead store. Handmade jewelry doesn’t have to mean plastic beads spelling out “best friend” like we made in summer camp. With a little thought and effort, you can make something similar to what you’d see in a store selling for thirty bucks.

Seriously, if I made that bracelet above, anyone can do it. Find the instructions here.

3. Personalized mugs

I don’t know about you, but I love mugs. If a friend took the time to create a mug just for me, I’d be thrilled.

This is another DIY where Pinterest is your friend. I think Sharpie mugs are the easiest, but there are tons of other ideas for people of varying levels of craftiness. This gift is pretty, functional, personal, and cheap. All it costs is a few bucks for the mug, and maybe a few more for markers or glitter or whatever.

(image source with instructions for Sharpie mugs)

4. Hot fudge

This is another one that I make for myself quite often.

Since it’s the holidays, you could make peppermint hot fudge and put it in a festive jar, like the photo above.

Or you could go for good old fashioned bittersweet hot fudge. Like with the coffee syrups, a glass jar and a pretty label go a long way in making this a thoughtful gift.


Happy gifting! What are your favorite homemade gifts?