The Best Gifts are Homemade; Here are 5 Baskets You’ll Love

Homemade Gifts are the Best Gifts

Or at least that’s what they say. Years ago, I was part of a group who got together starting in August every year to begin making our homemade Christmas presents. We made photo albums, wreaths, decorated candles, and smocked baby dresses to name a few of our projects. (I know I am dating myself!)

Judging by the response of those who received the gifts, I think it is true that homemade gifts are the best. And what a joy it was to give them! Question. Do the gifts have to be made completely from scratch? I would say no. There’s nothing new under the sun. Adding our own special touch to something purchased or designing a coffee mug for that special co-worker are just a few of the ways we can offer something homemade as a gift. CoziNest is here to help with that.

Gift Baskets Designed by You, Assembled by Us

Carol and I have searched the landscape, both vintage and new, and are now gathering the most unique gifts you can buy! We offer our local clients personal delivery and for those not so local, we are happy to ship. Here are five gift examples you can send to a friend or family member.

gift basket


Mix It Up Gift Basket

The above gift includes a mixing bowl, no-bake plain ol’ cheesecake mix, a relaxing tea blend for brewing and a wooden spoon. It sells for only $23. We can add mugs, tea cup and saucer or most any other suggestion. We have a complete line of easy food mixes. These make a perfect gift, a great addition to your weekly menu or an easy take along to a party. Here are a few of our new mixes:

  • No Bake Plain ol’ Cheesecake
  • No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake
  • No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake
  • Fruit Cobbler
  • No Bake Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
  • Mini Pecan Pie Muffin Mix
  • Dill-illicious Spinach Dip
  • Zesty Crab Dip
  • Warm Artichoke-Spinach Dip
  • Guacamole Dip Spices
  • Louisiana Gumbo
  • Red Beans & Rice
  • Cajun Jambalaya
  • Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup
  • Chili Seasoning
  • Cranberry Pasta Salad
  • Mediterranean Pasta Salad


An angel for a gift

I believe in angels

Start your gift basket with a piece of original art by Carol Zeien. Send this to someone extra special. This beautiful angel is painted on what we like to call “Sallywood”. Wood scrapped and left behind by Hurricane Sally. Good things can come out of destruction! Just like those incredible first responders who work tirelessly on our behalf; what better way to say thank you?

your cup of tea

Could this little set be your cup of tea?

Good morning to you! What a sweet way to have your breakfast tea! This Grosvenor 3-pc Tea Set includes our popular Relax tea leaves, perfect for a friend who loves pretty and dainty things. A little vintage mixed with a soothing tea blend you’re sure to love. This little bargain is only $28. All of our teas are blended here in the south, straight from the Appalachian Mountains.

homemade pumpkin painting

Pumpkins Anyone?

Start a bride’s gift with pretty Fall pillows and an afghan. Add a painting by Carol and a pair of tea mugs for that first cozy evening after the honeymoon. We can put it all together for you and deliver it locally! Shipping is available.

mug of tea

Need a little solace?

Sip our Solace Tea and feel your body relax. It might not completely take all your troubles away, but this homemade blend will help you breathe. The Coventry Mug and .50 oz blend of Solace Tea Leaves sells for only $12.

So, what do you think? Are homemade gifts the best gifts?

Be sure to enter our contest!

Head over to Instagram and upload a picture of someone opening a gift. Caption it with your idea for a unique gift basket with hashtag #ohmygiftbasket. Basket valued at $100. Winner announced on September 23. Rules are listed here.

4 Delightful November Plums to Sweeten Your Dinner

What’s for dinner? How about something a little different? November plums sauteed with red wine vinegar and brown sugar? Yes!!! I discovered this recipe on and adapted it to 007’s grilled pork chops. He is the grill master at our house, so all I have to do for dinner is come up with a few sides. Bored with baked potatoes and salads, I decided to search for something different for these November days and discovered that indeed, plums are a favorite for cooking this month. One I’m sure you’ve heard of is plum pudding.

November Plums

For a simple dinner without much fuss, 007 grilled a couple of pork chops and I added a topping of sauteed plums with rice and arugula salad. Done! Easy peasy and delicious.

Plums for November


1 tablespoon olive oil

4 plums, thinly sliced

1/4 to 1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (I use balsamic)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

fresh plums in November


Wash plums. Remove pits from plums and thinly slice. Heat 1 T oil in medium skillet, then add plums and onions. Saute until begin to soften. Add red wine vinegar (I use balsamic) and brown sugar. Cook about 5 more minutes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve over grilled pork chops with rice and your favorite arugula salad.

plums and purple onions

Yum!!! During the winter months, I love to pull out my cast iron skillet. It’s a great alternative to grilling when the weather just doesn’t cooperate. Pork chops seared in cast iron have a crisp coating without frying.

What are you cooking this month?

TV Dinner for November Night

National Pizza Month for the Happy Couple


Tell me. What could be better than a romantic lunch of pizza and a glass of wine? Answer: A happy couple celebrating their engagement with a view of the sea on a cool October day! Here are a few recipes to take your favorite pie into National Pizza Month.

Fall Pizza Recipes for You and Your Honey

This scrumptious recipe was discovered at Strawberry Blondie Kitchen. Apples, bacon and caramelized onions!

October – National Pizza Month must include Pumpkin!

Pumpkin Pizza

Love Lola has a delightful Fall Pizza recipe that, of course, includes pumpkin. She loves it so much her family has it more than once a week. If your kiddos like pumpkin, this would be a special tradition to start on Halloween night. A little pumpkin before they carry their little pumpkins trick or treating.

fall pizza recipe with figs

I must admit that as a child I hated figs. But my oh my! The combination of figs, prosciutto and fresh mozzarella that Rachael adds over at Spache the Spatula is one of the most unique flavors ever! Then the drizzle of Balsamic takes it to a whole new level!

Ok, so maybe you are more of a traditionalist with your pie. I’ve got you!

October National Pizza Month

So, I thought I would “wrap things up” with this scary little pizza…. get it? Mummy pizza… wrapped up? I crack me up.

Tipbuzz will have you in stitches. They’ve added little bandaids of pepperoni and a monstrous amount of cheese. And … oh! oh! oh!….wouldn’t it be a scream if you proposed with the ring falling out of this little mummy’s mouth? I kill me!

Your love will preserve this month as one of their favorites of the year with all of this attention to their comfort. And no matter what your favorite is, share it while enjoying a gorgeous view, a glass of Chianti and the laughter of your beloved.

Chianti with wine

Happy National Pizza Month Everyone!

Comfort Food Friday – Delicious Chicken Pot Pie

On this Comfort Food Friday, I am sharing one of my all time favorite recipes. Chicken Pot Pie. It’s simple to make, delicious and plentiful. It is warm, juicy and crunchy at the same time, making it a perfect addition to your comfort food list.

Chicken Pot Pie

Growing up, my mom would buy the little individual frozen pot pies that we could heat up in a hurry. (35-40 minutes in the oven, no microwave in the 60’s!) I loved eating them on cold nights while watching The F.B.I. on television with my dad. I wanted a bite of that crispy crust in every bite of that pie. Chicken. What chicken? Who cared if there was chicken? I just wanted the creamy sauce, vegetables and crust! It was almost like eating biscuits and gravy!

Now I have grown up and the chicken is just as important as the crust. Maybe more so, but hey this post is about comfort food! If you want skinny food Friday, you might want to skip on over to another blog. Hehehe.

So, let’s start with the chicken. Bless This Mess has the very best baked chicken recipe and it is easy peasy. Don’t forget to set out your scrap bag to help with preparation.

Baked Chicken Leg Quarters

Baked Chicken Ingredients

4 Chicken Leg Quarters or 8 Boneless Thighs

4 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Season to Taste (I sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Brush chicken with butter and season to taste. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Check after 40 minutes if using boneless. Remove foil, increase heat to 425. Continue baking until skin is crispy. Allow to rest about 10 minutes. If using in pot pie recipe, remove skin and chop chicken into bite size pieces.

While the chicken bakes prepare the sauce and pie crust.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie


1 box Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups Progresso™ chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed


  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Make pie crusts as directed on box for Two-Crust Pie using 9-inch glass pie pan. pillsbury pie crust
  2. In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.chicken pot pie filling
  3. Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. Cut slits in several places in top crust.Chicken Pot Pie4. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.chicken pot pie

Enjoy with roasted corn on the cob, a green salad and strawberry shortcake for dessert. If a meal could truly give you a hug, this one is it!

Summer Comfort Food Macaroni Salad

One of my favorite salads for summer is the classic Macaroni Salad. The versions of this cold, comforting salad are as numerous as the elbow macaroni noodles I love to pile on my plate. Here is sampling of the delicious recipes to choose from. There’s something for everyone, including one with a little kick added. Click on the photos or links to see the recipes.

Classic Macaroni Salad

This is the go-to salad for any picnic, family gathering or lunch staple. Another great thing about Macaroni Salad is that it will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Comfort Food Macaroni Salad

Spicy Macaroni Salad

A touch of dijon mustard and cayenne pepper kick this recipe up a notch.

Spicy Macaroni Salad

Creamy Cheddar Macaroni Salad

Joanna from A Pretty Life has a cheesy version that is delicious. You can serve this with any barbeque meat, but my favorite is grilled pork chops.

And of course, I LOVE the bowl! A perfect vintage piece to pick up at your local mall. It is a Pyrex Amish Butterprint that was popular in the 1950’s.

Vegetable Pesto Pasta Salad

My friend, Jenna over at The Painted Apron has a healthy, vegetable-filled version of pasta salad that you can make right out of your garden.

Summer Veggie Pasta Salad

Whether you are grilling for two or twenty, one of these recipes will surely be a hit at your next picnic. Serve macaroni salad with simple grilled sausages and burgers, short ribs or what 007 calls a “London Broil.” Surprisingly, it’s not a cut of steak in his vocabulary and it doesn’t come from London as far as we know. It is his method of grilling a smorgasbord of meats, poultry and/or seafood.

He begins with several of our favorite marinades or dry rubs and marinates the assortment for several hours or overnight before grilling. As empty-nesters, we love grilling several cuts at one time to have throughout the week. To add a bit of fun, 007 and I will talk in a British accent while we cook. So in the spirit of our London Broil…

Pip pip, Cheerio!


Partying with these lovelies: Happiness is Homemade

Southern Fried Chicken Salad with Priester’s Pecans

I remember the very first time I had a Southern Fried Chicken Salad. We were moving to a new town, exhausted from the move and starving! We stopped into a chain restaurant to eat something quick just to take a break from unpacking. I was in the mood for some comfort food in the worst way! Momma’s fried chicken wasn’t available, so I ordered the healthiest version of that I could find on the menu.

Southern Fried Chicken Salad

I was in love at first bite! I decided that minute that this was a meal I wanted to serve at home. According to just how much comfort a family member needed, I would serve either fried chicken or grilled chicken with the salad. Then, later in many travels up and down I-65 in Alabama, I discovered Priester’s Roasted and Salted Pecan Halves. Adding these to the salad made it a southern masterpiece.

On nights when we were heading to the ballpark, a school function or just craving this salad, I would pick up all ingredients from the deli at my local grocery store and throw it together for a quick meal. Today, this still works perfectly for us since 007’s retirement. It’s a great way to have a meal together without heating up the kitchen. So stock your pantry with pecans and then head on over to Publix. Pick up the following ingredients for a delicious, DIY Southern Fried Chicken Salad

Ingredients for Two Servings

  • 2-4 Fried Chicken Tenders from the Deli
  • 1-2 Packages of Mixed Salad
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Purple Onion (optional)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • 2-4 Boiled Eggs from Deli
  • Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 Package of Dried Cranberries
  • Handful of Priester’s Pecans
  • Ken’s Light or Regular Honey Mustard Salad Dressing
  • Club Crackers


Chop chicken tenders into bite size pieces. Thinly slice onions, quarter boiled eggs, cut apple into small wedges, cut tomatoes in half and break pecans into pieces.


You can also order the honey-glazed pecans for a little more sweetness.

Pour salad into bowls and top with chicken. Layer cheese, onions, cranberries and grape tomatoes. Place egg and apple wedges on side of salad. Sprinkle pecans on top and add dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. For extra comfort and crunch, serve with Club Crackers. Yummmm.


Create a quick al fresco table-setting and enjoy in the comfort of your garden, on the porch or patio. Here’s a table example from one of my favorite bloggers.

Celebrate and Decorate

Or check this out:

Farmhouse Setting in a City Courtyard

Courtyard by Night


In the winter, clear the coffee table and cozy up in front of the fire while watching your favorite tv series.


Coffee Table Setting

two table settings

water of life

For ultimate comfort, meditate on Philippians 4:8 while you dine:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.