Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Celebrate Independence Day with Style

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Here are some fun, classy ideas that I found online while looking for 4th of July ideas.

 

This is from Twig & Thistle blog.  They’ve done a great job keeping it elegant and simple by using a common motif and color.  Click on the link to see more ideas from this creative team.

 

A 4th of July picnic or Bar-B-Que is all about mobility and easy to eat foods.  Organize & Decorate Everything takes you step-by-step on how to make these simple food cones.

 

Another do it yourself project from Women’s Day.  I like this because you could add your own motif to it and reuse it every year.  Use it for silverware, condiments, etc.

 

I’m all about using items found around the house.  Try this cute idea reusing tin cans that have been pierced and painted.

 

And we can’t forget food!  I’m not sure what the drink is but you could easily make this with champagne and blueberries.

A nicely done Rice Crispy bar!

 

One of my favorite summer drinks is a watermelon slushy.  It’s super easy so thought I’d share it with you.  Just cut up large chunks of watermelon and throw in a blender; blend until smooth.  Add ice and fresh mint and enjoy a refreshing drink.  You can also add sparkling water or alcohol of your choice.  Cheers to a safe holiday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gift Ideas for the Man of the House

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I don’t know about you but shopping for my father is one of the biggest challenges I have.  He doesn’t golf like so many Hallmark cards think Dad’s do, he doesn’t have a time sucking hobby (although he does like several) nor does he need any grilling gadgetry (either you know how to make a mean steak or you don’t; tools won’t help).  Often times I try to get inspiration from doing a search online which always leaves me cringing because the ideas are often so cheesy.  So I compiled a few gifts that I think my Dad, along with others,  would enjoy.

  • Create a basket of local goodies or unique spices.  Add in a special utensil or gadget that will get lots of use.
  • A classic shave from a local barber.
  • A fly-fishing lesson or deep sea fishing trip.
  • A photo or piece of art that you’ve created.
  • A watches or new wallet seem to be necessary every so often.
  • Fine wine or whiskey.
  • A hammock for a lazy day in the yard.
  • A nice dinner out; because time together is often more important than gifts.

Hope you all have a wonderful day with your Dad’s.

 

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside…

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

So come on in and curl up by the fire!  There is something so cozy and comforting about the flickering flames of a fireplace on a chilly evening.  Adding a fireplace to a room can completely change the feel of your living space.  It adds a warmth both visually and physically that neither lights nor candles can compare to.  Like the kitchen island, it becomes a place that friends and family gather around.  They are a beautiful addition to a living room, bed room, or den/office/library.  Here are some of our favorites in honor of this age old invention…

Fireplace 1

A traditional fireplace that exudes classic elegance with a soft monochromatic palette.

Fireplace 3

Love the combination of wood and metal.  The sleek modern design is beautifully contrasted by the rustic storage of firewood.

Fireplace 4

Fireplace 2

The above two fireplaces are by Focus.  They are more industrial and far less traditional, but present some interesting ideas on how to incorporate a fireplace into a small space.

Fireplace 5

An antique fireplace by Mary Jeanne Kneen makes a stunning statement when paired with this painting.

Fireplace 6

Natural and modern, the rich wood finish and asymmetrical shelf provide visual interest to a soft background color.

Fireplace 7I have an obsession with this style of fireplace.  They are typically found in old homes or brownstones in the NYC area.  I dream of one of these some day because the way the fire lights the patterns on the metal face is something that can’t be reproduced.

Holiday Cheer

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

December has arrived and with it comes the Holidays.   It doesn’t matter what you celebrate or how big or small your budget, bringing the holidays into your home feels good this time of year.  In many families a Christmas tree has become an important part of holiday tradition.  This year we worked hard to find some less traditional options that take on a variety of shapes and forms.  We also scoured the web to bring you the most stunning and creative holiday decor that is fit to adorn your foyer, table, mantle, or wherever you deem worthy.  Begin a new holiday tradition with your family and design something together!  Cheers!

Vintage wood slats offer color and texture while heart appliques give it a personal touch.  A great idea for small spaces and people who love DIY projects.

upcycle-eco-friendly-christmas-tree-fun-cute-rustic-decoration-idea-wood

I absolutely love this idea!  It is an excellent space saver or just a fun twist on your mundane book cases.

fun-christmas-tree-idea-eco-friendly-book-shelf-interesting-decor-for-holiday

An old school shiny tinsel tree adds a touch of glamour to a simple room.  Try this is silver, white, or a bright hue like fuschia for a pop of color.  Wrap your packages in a shade of that color and dress with a contrasting ribbon to complete the look.

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A playful take on a tree and a great idea if you don’t have a chandelier over your table.  All you need is a branch, ornaments, and fishing line.

fun-cheerful-christmas-decoration-baubles-on-branch-hanging-over-dining-table-unique-way-to-decorate-suspended-decor-idea-project

Gather friends at your holiday party and ask them to each write down something they are thankful for and find a place for it on your “paper tree”.

apartment-christmas-decoration-funny-fun-simple-christmas-tree-unique-made-with-post-it-on-mirror-elegant-cute-do-it-yourself

Go natural with fruits and berries that have a rich color and interesting texture.

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Give leftover ornaments, candies, or accessories a home!  Fill a glass vase with the colorful baubles.  It makes a beautiful table center piece.

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ms dreidelcards

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Put your old cupcake tower to good use.  Combine household accents with a few holiday accessories for a festive homemade display.

Christmas-Tiered serving platters - tablescape - table holiday Christmas Fall decor via WOman's Day

Make a statement by grouping together candle holders and vases.  Try varying heights to give your display visual interest.  Add an organic element such as faux berry branches for contrast.

christmas-tree-golden-brown-decoration-craft-theme-idea-holiday-decor-mantel-fireplace-noel-unique-color-combination-stylish-elegant

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Embrace simplicity.  These tables are elegant because they aren’t overdone.

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Entice your senses by incorporating potpourri, cinnamon sticks, or scented candles.

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Select a color palette and use it for your indoor and outdoor decorations.

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Construct your own wall focal point that can be saved for next year.

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Who said stockings have to be hung from a mantle?  Utilize the surfaces you have efficiently and creatively.  This piano is a perfect example!

Fall Holiday Christmas tree garland piano decor stockings

Try combining fresh greens, votive candles, a colorful fruit, and simple ornaments to create your table runner.  Add height with vases, candelabras, or family heirlooms.

Sweet-Paul-Holiday-Decorating-Photos

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Soften a whimsical wintery white palette with cozy fabrics and interesting textures.

Christmas Fall Holiday Decor - bedroom decor and design - christmas stockings and garland

Design your own Menorah with family or invest in one that expresses your style.

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Work to build a “theme” for your holiday decor.  Select mantle decorations that can easily be mimicked on your table.

crate and barrel

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Our Holiday Gift Guide

Friday, November 25th, 2011

For the Home

1.  Add some great pillows to refresh your rooms.   This Hermes accent pillow offers a pop of color and a touch of class, available in multiple colors.

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Or this beautiful digitally printed pillow from ABC Home.

digitally printed silk florine pillow

2.  Light up a personal photograph with this freestanding picture light from Visual Comfort.

easel

3.   Add a cloche to a window sill or side table for year around green.  This one is from Arteriors.

arteriors vase

4.  Add a dash of color and an abundance of warmth with a beautiful throw like this one from Designers Guild.

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Or this one from Missoni.

Funny+Blanket

For the Ladies

1.  Express your love on custom notecards from a printer that can do letterpress.

letterpress

2.  Beat the chilly air with an infinity scarf.  Many styles exist so check out Etsy for your favorite.  The one below is from deroucheau.

infinity

3.  An exquisite piece of jewelry offers the perfect amount of holiday sparkle.  I love the modern elegance of David Yurman pieces found at davidyurman.com

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The Merrakesh Necklace below from Stella&Dot offers holiday glitter at a delightful price.

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4.  The accessory on every woman’s arm, a hand bag.  Here are a few beauties that I couldn’t resist.

A daytime purse that can hold everything you need, from a brand that is renowned for its quality.  Find it in stores or online at Coach.

coach

Shiny and bright, this raspberry patent leather Kate Spade bag is a steal.

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Or this great evening clutch from Sondra Roberts; find at Nordstrom.

clutch

5.  Who said that plaid was just for the boys?  This Burberry jacket is a chic version of an age old classic.

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For the Men

1.  Whisky Rocks to keep the spirts cold without dilution.  The natural soapstone is reusable after a quick rinse and a little freezer time.

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2.  Lululemon Vent Tech Shirt for all manly activities…keep ’em dry and smell free.  An added bonus is the fun little note on the hem.

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3.  A Paradigm gift certificate to spruce up the bachelor pad.

4.  Liquid Image HD Snow Goggles let you record your action on the slopes with the push of a button.  Those silly cameras head cams are a thing of the past.

snow-goggles5.  A personal beer holster keeps you hands free whether on a hike or in the backyard for a barbecue. Available at redenvelope.com

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For the Foodie

1.  Custom Knife from either Cut Brooklyn or Middleton Knives Handmade in the USA and they are stunning…order in advance as they take time to craft.

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2.  Le Cruset in a fabulous color (cassis)  like this one below.  Available at muliple locations.

le cruset cassis

3.  Cooking classes to hone or learn a new skill.  Try Escoffier in Boulder or French Culinary Institute in NYC.

cooking class

For the Kids

1.  Makerbot – Let the kids design their own toy and then watch their creation come to life with this 3-D printer.  You’ll be as impressed as they are…and you can make things to use as well (note the spatula on the website).

makerbot

2.   Paint a wall with chalkboard paint or white marker paint so they can paint on the walls without getting into trouble.

chalkboard paint

3.  A Downhill Toboggan…because snow is a coming and memories last a lifetime, just ask my brother.

Toboggan

4.  Start a tradition of buying them a themed ornament each year depicting what they are interested in at that time.  Let them open it before Christmas so they can hang it on the tree.  This is a tradition started by my Colorado “Grandparents” and I looked forward to it every year as a child.  An added bonus is they will have a tree full of ornaments once they start their own families.

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For the Bookworm

1.  Interesting or beautiful books for their coffee table.

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2.  The Kindle Fire – because it’s now in color and there is nothing better than being able to turn a page with one hand!

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For the Oenophile

1.  Corkcicle – a reusable, nontoxic gel that freezes in a BPA free plastic icecicle shape to keep your wine cold without the large, messy bucket of ice.

corkcicle

2.  A classic waiter’s corkscrew from Chateau Laguiole.   Most connoisseurs prefer less gadgety items when it comes to serving a nice bottle of wine.  Featured is the oak barrel handle but for those inclined, they offer bone designs as well.

Waiters frient

3.  Wine Bottle Tags for organizing their cellar.  Available at multiple sources.

wine tags

For the Pet Lover

1.  This has to be the most stylish modern pet bed I’ve seen.  It’s from Vurv and it’s handmade in Canada.  They have other great products as well.

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2.  A trendy feeding bowl for your pooch from These Creatures.

dog bowl

Creative Wrapping…

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Have you ever wanted to spruce up your gift wrapping skills for the holidays?  Now is your chance!  Here is a colorful selection of ideas to help you dress your gifts appropriately for any occasion.

Tip 1: Accessorize your package!

Gift wrapping doesn’t have to be complicated. The simplest wrapping paper can be embellished with a variety of easy to make or inexpensive to buy personal touches.

gift-wrapping

Yarn pompoms add a cozy touch to the kraft wrapping paper. Buy yarn that matches the colors of your holiday decorations.

Watch the first 3 minutes of this video and you will be a pompom expert! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02ZZUlpB4Z8

creative unique gift wrap

Love these ideas!  Head to your local craft store and find some ribbon, jewels, felt, and doilies – or whatever little treasures catch your eye! Start with the ribbon, it will allow you to attach your fun finds to the gift more easily.  Next, customize the package with your personal creation.  Think of it like a small work of art made with love for the receiver of this pretty package.

IMG_1273You can’t go wrong with a little bit of sparkle.  Purchase some glitter paper or apply spray glue to an old ornament and sprinkle with glitter.  The results are classy and tasteful.

Tip 2: Re-use

Wondering what to do with the old newspaper, phonebook, map, or collection of kids artwork?  Try one of these ideas.

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Recycle your newspaper in a more meaningful way.  News print offers a visually interesting way to wrap a package.

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Pull out the ancient ball of twine and package of construction paper and get to work!  The twine looks rustic and the shapes cut from construction paper offer a homemade touch.

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Invest in a few interesting stamps and ink pads.  Apply to an ordinary paper bag, fabric or  plain wrapping paper an the result is extraordinary.

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Phonebooks may be a thing of the past but that doesn’t mean they belong in the trash.  The colorful ads can make a great bow.  Try this simple origami pinwheel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnNaCC5Hu9I&feature=fvsr

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Remember those old jam jars that your grandma had? Well they make the perfect stocking stuffer for loved ones!  Fill with candy, golf balls, hair accessories, gift cards, and small toys.  Top with a bow and your work is done.

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Your child’s artwork can be a special way to wrap gifts for close family and friends.  Go through the stack that has found its way into a forgotten cupboard and put it to good use this holiday season.

Tip 3: Add a bold pattern

Pick a theme for your gift wrapping this year. It can be a color, pattern, or texture.

GiftWrap

These stripes can give your gifts a glimpse of old school glamour.

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The polka dots combine nicely with the laser cut applique.

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Try making your own reusable gift boxes this year.  Purchase a few sheets of scrap book paper that have great patterns. Cut them to the size of your box top and glue them on.  Pick a matching or contrasting ribbon, measure to size, and attach using spray glue.  Choose an accessory of your choice to top the box.  Attach by making a small slit the width of a toothpick in the ribbon.  Slide the “ornament” into the slot and voila!

Happy Wrapping!

A Twist on the Thanksgiving Meal

Monday, November 7th, 2011

SWEET POTATO SALAD WITH ROSEMARY-HONEY VINAIGRETTE (SERVES ABOUT 6)

What you need:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4-1/2 cups peeled,cubed yams or sweet potatoes
  • generous tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a rim with foil.  Mist it with cooking spray.

Peel and chop yams into 2 inch cubes. Toss the potatoes with one tablespoon olive oil.  Spread on prepared pan.  Bake until tender, about 35 minutes.

Whisk remaining oil, honey, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour over hot potatoes.  Serve warm or at room temp.

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SPICY JALAPENO CRANBERRY SAUCE

Make this a day ahead!  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Allow to come to room temp before serving.

This is great with roast turkey or ham.  I usually double or triple the recipe if your guests are adventuresome eaters!

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (this is spicy – don’t touch your face or eyes!)
  • 1 green onion (white and green portion) minced

Directions:

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in cranberries.

Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes or until cranberries are softened, many will split and juice is thickened.  Remove from heat.

Stir in the jalapeno pepper and onion.  Cool to room temperature and serve.

Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce 500

 

Brussel Sprouts (serves 8)

A great recipe to convert anyone who thinks brussel sprouts are not tasty.   

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb. thick-cut bacon, cut in 1/4-inch lardons
  • 36 Brussels sprouts, trimmed, with outer 2 leaves removed, and halved
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 12 chestnuts (roasted and peeled, broken into chunks)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup New York grade-B maple syrup
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions:

In a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet, render the lardons over medium heat until they are a rich brown. With a slotted spoon, remove the lardons to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Toss the sprouts in the pan, season with sea salt, and cook in the bacon fat over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chestnuts, and continue cooking for 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the garlic and thyme, and cook for another 3 minutes. Pour in the cream, and reduce by half. Season to taste. Add the bacon, pour in the maple syrup, and give a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes, and serve.

brussel-sprouts

Mighty Duck (serves 2-4)

If you are tired of turkey this is a wonderful alternative.  My only word of caution is that it only feeds 2-4 depending on the duck size so you may have to do more than one.  This recipe is definitely not your standard way of cooking a duck but it turns out super juicy!  From Alton Brown.

Ingredients:

Brine:

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 pint pineapple orange juice
  • 15 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 (5 1/2 to 6 pound) frozen Long Island Duck, thawed
  • 2 handfuls shredded chard
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • Dash sherry or balsamic vinegar
  • Directions:

    Combine all brine ingredients in a plastic container with a lid. Place the lid on the container and shake to dissolve the salt.

    Remove the pop-up thermometer, liver, gizzards, and heart. Cut off the wings.

    Using kitchen shears, locate the spine at the base of the neck. Cut up the line of the backbone towards the neck cavity. Turn the duck and cut straight towards the rear cavity. Remove the backbone.

    Turn the duck over and cut straight down the middle of the breast bone, leaving 2 equal duck halves. To separate the legs from the breast, flip your halves over so the flesh side is facing up at you. Using a knife, make a crescent shape cut between the leg and the breast. Lay your knife flat against the skin and make 3 marks in one direction and then in the other, making an X. Make sure that you are cutting through the skin and not the meat.

    Line the inside of a plastic lexan or a pot with a zip-top bag. Place the duck quarters inside the bag, and pour the brine over the duck. Seal the bag, ensuring that all air is removed from the bag. Brine the duck for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in the refrigerator.

    Bring 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Place a colander into the pot and line the sides of the colander with the duck. Do not stack the duck quarters on each other. Cover and turn the heat to medium low. Steam the duck for 45 minutes. Set oven to 475 degrees F. Place a large cast iron skillet into the oven.

    Remove duck pieces from steamer and place legs, skin side down, into the hot skillet. Place the skillet into the hot oven immediately and cook the leg quarters for 10 minutes. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook for 7 more minutes or until the duck takes on a deep mahogany color and the skin is very crisp.

    Remove the duck from the skillet and rest under foil. Add the chard and the shallots to the skillet. Toss the chard in the fat until it barely wilts. Season with the sherry or balsamic vinegar.

    Serve the duck with the chard.

     

    Bourbon Pecan Pie

    A great twist on a pecan pie from Paula Deen.  Bourbon gives the pie more flavor depth. 

    Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality bourbon
  • 1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie shell, unbaked
  • Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, eggs, pecans, and bourbon, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell, and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until pie is set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

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