Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas 2013

25 Days of Christmas!

Hello!  Welcome to the first day of 25 days of Christmas!  Every day up until Christmas day I will have a Christmas-related post up for your reading pleasure.  Why?  Because I LOVE the Christmas season.

Yes I started the last day of November. 

So without further ado, I present to you:

Since one of the joys of Christmas is gift-giving, I will share with you my Christmas Gift Guide!

Christmas Gift Guide 2013

I'm going to share with you today some of my favorite gift ideas for 2013! 


For women

Nordstrom "Butter" slipper socks, $7, may purchase here

These are the best slipper socks.  They are super soft and comfy.  You will see a lot of copycats out there. Many years ago these were the first ones that appeared in the stores at Christmas time.  I love giving these away as gifts!  Great stocking stuffers too!  The closest in softness and general wear and tear are sold at Bath and Body Works (however BBW's are Shea-infused and you leave little footprints everywhere!)

Sonoma Lavender Gift Blanket $60, may purchase here

This lovely blanket is about 1 yard long by 18 inches wide.  You put it in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes, and voila! Instant relaxation.  It is full of lavender and buckwheat.  The aroma after heating in addition to the warmth provided is a very nice treat! 

Clarisonic Mia 2, $150, may purchase here

This is a WONDERFUL invention.  I have had mine for 2 years and my face has never felt this great.  After 1 use the results were amazing.  This is a great product for anyone, but especially teenagers and their acne prone skin.  I can never go back to regular face washing again!  This has changed my daily beauty routine!  



For Men

Ugg Ascot Slipper $100, may purchase here 

My husband has a pair of these and he loves them.  It's hard to get a guy to comment on clothing.  'Nuff said.

Apple TV, $99, may purchase here

I've had mine for several years and it is great!  You can watch movies and tv shows (buy or rent!) straight from this device.  You can watch youtube, sports channels, HBO go, radio, netflix, hulu, and many more!  LOVE this thing!  


Razors
I know razors can be expensive.  My husband highly recommends the "dollar shave club" online.  You select one of their razors and they send you a new one every month.  To see how it works, click here.   To buy a gift card, click here.
image description

For Children

I think shopping for children can be either very easy or very difficult, depending on their age.  Some of our friends have rules "no toys for gifts".  That means, what, books for Christmas?! (reference to this youtube video!)

Raskullz Helmets, $20-$25, may purchase here

How neat are these?  They are helmets!  Kids actually might be excited to wear a helmet.  You can trick them into thinking they are toys but really you are improving their safety!




For girls...

An American Girl Doll! They have historical dolls with books that teach young girls about history, in addition to having a story about the girl growing up during that historical period.  They also have modern day ones and dolls you can order that look like you... but I like the historical dolls because it also teaches kids something about history.  Doll and book $110. (Ironically, the price has only gone up $10 since the early '90s... not too bad!)

For more gift ideas, check out my favorite things by clicking on the "favorite things" label at the bottom of this post.

For Boys.

Star Wars Legos. Price Range $20-$150.

LEGO Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter 9493


Hopefully that provided you with some ideas! Happy shopping!

I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog,Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch', Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here,Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, and a stroll through life inspire me tuesday's. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nespresso

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My Favorite Things: Nespresso Coffee Machine

Today I am sharing with you another one of my favorite things: a Nespresso maker!

My husband and I received this as a Christmas present last year as our Keurig broke... and we LOVE it.

I will give you some comparisons between the Nespresso and the Keurig.



We also have the aeroccino, which froths your milk in about 40 seconds!  It is GREAT!

It makes a shot of foamy, delicious espresso in 10 seconds. It takes about 10 seconds for the machine to warm up.  So... in less than a minute you have your own homemade latte ready!

When you are thinking about purchasing this machine, keep in mind, it IS an espresso machine. So it makes an espresso shot of coffee, NOT a big huge cup of coffee like the Keurig.  

The pods cost $0.60 each, about the same price for K-cups on the Keurig.  They now have 21 different types of pods (they call them "Grand Crus"). 

colorful Grand Crus

The Grand Crus have regular espresso shots and then "Lungos" which brew a *slightly* larger espresso shot.  They have seasonal offerings and recently added chocolate, caramel, and vanilla to their regular flavors.  To read about all of their pod types, click here.

My personal favorite is the purple one, Arpeggio.  I use it to make my lattes.  I also use the vanilio one to make my homemade caramel macchiatos.

They have a wide range of machines in all price ranges.  They usually have deals between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so keep your eyes open during this holiday season!
Lattissima Plus, $399
Gran Maestria, $699. Includes a cup warmer!
Essenza, $99, cheapest model.
I really love this coffee machine, more so than the Keurig.  If you are debating between the two of them for this Christmas, as an owner of both, let me give you a quick list of pros/cons.

KEURIG VS NESPRESSO

Keurig

pros: slightly cheaper pods (by $0.03!!), machine can be cheaper, pods easier to purchase in stores, pods come in many different flavors, brews a large cup of drip coffee

cons: coffee is more watered down and therefore cannot make as good as lattes, my machine BROKE after <2 years which I consider a huge con considering the price! No milk frother.

Nespresso

pros: brews strong espresso shot which is great if you like lattes and cappuccinos, coffee is more foamy and tastes better, milk frother is fantastic

cons: machine more expensive, can't make a large cup of drip coffee, not many pod coffee flavors, can only brew coffee and not milk chocolate/teas.

So there you have it.  I have used both machines for 1 year and those are my honest opinions.  I was not paid (unfortunately!) to write anything about these companies or their products.

Alright, enough typing, time to go enjoy my home made cinnamon dolce latte!

I was NOT compensated for this post.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Simple Thanksgiving Tablescape

I started opening up my Christmas storage bins and found my holly berry Christmas decorations.

And then I thought... ooh! This could make a great Thanksgiving tablescape.  So I put the pumpkins away (sorry velvet pumpkins... 'til next year!)

This tablescape is nice because you can leave it up after Thanksgiving, providing a nice transition into Christmastime!

Faux holly berry adorns the napkin
 A simple, rustic theme... inspired by the outdoors.. birch candles... holly berries... burlap...


If you have a real holly berry bush (like my childhood home did) you could always use branches from that instead.



You could also use real cranberries too! Be careful though, they stain!
one last look
You can also check out my other Thanksgiving Tablescape idea here 

I link up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog,Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch', Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here,Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, and life of the party at the grant life, and the style sisters, and Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard cottage

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Easy 5 minute Pizza Recipe!

Easy Peasy Pizza!

I don't have the patience to make gourmet meals everyday. I also don't have the time.  Working 60-80 hours a week doesn't leave much time for anything... except blogging! haha!!

So, here's a recipe for pizza that's super easy and fast to make!


Ingredients

  • Naan (I used Trader Joe's frozen naan, I defrosted it in the microwave for 15 seconds)
  • Italian cheese mix (I used Kraft, doesn't really matter though)
  • Pizza sauce (Prego was what I found in the store)
  • Fresh Zucchini
  • Fresh Squash
  • Corn (I used frozen, fresh would taste better!)
  • Anything else you'd like to put on it... mushrooms, peppers, onions, pepperoni.  I used the ingredients I had available.

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Put a layer of pizza sauce onto the naan.  Sprinkle as much or as little cheese as you see fit.
3. Slice the squash thin so it will cook all the way through in the oven.  Place on top.
4. Sprinkle corn on top (mine was still frozen and warmed up nicely)
5. Bake in the oven for approximately 10-15, until cheese is completely melted and starting to brown.
6. Let it cool so you don't burn your tongue on molten hot lava cheese!

Total prep time: 15-20 minutes! That's it!!
Done!

All done! Yummy!!
 This was very very easy to make and quite tasty.  It was a perfect size for one person.  You could always make several for more people.  Or you could cut them up into smaller pieces and serve as an appetizer at a party.

Hope you enjoyed Easy Peasy Pizza!
I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog,Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch', Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here,Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, and a stroll through life inspire me tuesday's. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Antique Candle Snuffers

I've been lighting my candles daily now that it's dark really early outside.  I've been really appreciative of my candle snuffer.  It had me thinking... maybe I should collect candle snuffers as my next "thing" to collect?

Antique Candle Snuffers


As you all know, candle light was very important prior to modern times.  Having a properly working candle was very important.  The wicks weren't that great and the wax was old animal fat.

Candle snuffers were not only used to extinguish the candle, but also for cutting off excess thread.

Antique Candle Snuffer, from wikipedia, bronze
The sharp pointy edge was used to dig out parts of the burnt wick that fell into the hot wax.

The little box on the snuffer was used to catch "the snuffs" aka trimmings.

A snuff pan or dish was than used to lay the greasy snuffers on (remember, the candles were made from animal fat!)

sterling silver, 1820s, photo from justinteeantiques.com
1880s, from liveauctioneers.com

 Another fancy candle snuffer with the tray!
silver plate candle snuffer with tray, 1850s, photo from omalleyantiques.com
Nowadays, when we think candle snuffer, we think of the actual "cap" that was attached to the candle stick.  This cap is pictured below attached to the side of this antique chamberstick.
Antique chamberstick, sterling silver, 1788, photo from bryandouglas.co.uk
The candle scissors snuffer tray combo was made from about 1680-1850s.

The paraffin candle was invented around 1825... which meant the wicks didn't smoke and self-consumed.  So the scissor snuffer tray combo was abandoned.

However, the "caps" remained.  Not only were they made from various metals, but also from porcelain!

French porcelain candle snuffer, formed like a tulip, 1850. photo from vandekar.com
Meissen candle snuffer, 1820s. from ebay.com

Notice how none of the candle snuffers look like the modern ones we see today? I had a hard time finding when long-handled candle snuffers were produced.  They started gaining popularity in the 1940s.

You can pick them up at any home store now.

My favorite new candle snuffer is by Michael Aram, isn't it pretty?
"Black Orchid" snuffer by Michael Aram

Using a candle snuffer is very nice...

...you don't blow wax everywhere...
... and the candle doesn't smoke nearly as much...
... so there's more candle aroma left when the candle is out!

Do you have an antique candle snuffer that you use?  What about a new one? Please share!

I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog,Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch', Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here,Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, and a stroll through life inspire me tuesday's. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thanksgiving Onion Rolls

Thanksgiving Onion Rolls

We are making our own bread rolls this Thanksgiving... and boy are they good!  They take some prep time but a majority of the time is just waiting for the bread to rise. 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup dried onions (preferred chopped onions)
  • 21g honey
  • 7g salt
  • 21g whisked whole egg
  • 21g oil
  • 7g yeast
  • 450g flour
  • 240g water
Makes 24-28 rolls

Directions

  1. Hydrate onions with boiling hot water. 
2. In a separate bowl, mix together honey, salt, whole egg, oil, yeast, and flour.
It's easier to place the bowl in the scale and then tare and weigh each ingredient as it is added.

3. Set onions aside.  Use the extra onion water as part of the 240g of water.  Then add however much water you need to in order to have 240g water.

4. Mix together.  If using a mixer, use the dough hook on the 2nd speed for about 10 minutes.
the kitchenaid working hard for you!


5. Cover container with plastic wrap and place mixed dough container into a warm place for 2 hours and let it rise.  
for our warm place, we heated a cup of water and then placed the warm water and bowl in the microwave and closed the door for 2 hours

after 2 hours of rising! It's ALIVE! 

6. Slice dough into 1g piece and roll into balls.  Then squash the round balls with the heel of your hand into the hydrated onions until the balls are flattened to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
7. Place on a cookie sheet

8. Cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm location for 1 hour.

9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees during the last bread proofing stage.   

10. Remove plastic wrap and bake until the tops are brown.  This is about 11 minutes in a convection oven and 15 minutes in a conventional oven.
They are done! They smell delicious! 

11. And... voila! Smells good! Freshly baked onion rolls!

As with most fresh breads, they do not store well.  They must be eaten within 2-3 days!  Not a problem in this carb-loving house!

You could always mix in poppy seeds, garlic, cheese, or whatever else you can think of to the mix!  

Hopefully this has inspired to you to bake your own bread for Thanksgiving!

This post was featured at Confessions of a Plate Addict. To see other great Thanksgiving ideas, go here!


I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog,Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch', Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here,Feathered Nest Fridayand Autumn Abounds Party at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, and a stroll through life inspire me tuesday's. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fall Harvest Salad

Apple & Pecan Fall Harvest Salad

Today I'm sharing with you one of my FAVORITE salad recipes.  

It's easy to make and healthy.  Restaurants charge $7-$10 for the same thing for 1 person.

Ingredients
  • Mixed spring greens or spinach
  • dried cranberries
  • 1 apple (I prefer either Fuji, Honeycrisp, or Gala as they are crunchier apples)
  • chopped pecans
  • honey dijon salad dressing


Directions... really simple.
1. Wash your greens and put them in a bowl.
2. Chop up your apple into small pieces and drizzle on top until your desire.
3. Chop up the pecans (unless you bought chopped pecans) and drizzle on top.
4. Add the cranberries and then sprinkle the honey dijon dressing on. DONE!


Doesn't this look good?!
You can control the amount of calories in the salad by adding less pecans and dressing.

Those are high in calories.  And we want to waste our calories on dessert, right?

Up to you on how healthy you want your salad to be!

While this is a "Fall" salad... it tastes great year round!


I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog,Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch', Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here,Feathered Nest Fridayand Autumn Abounds Party at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, andlife of the party at the grant life, and the style sisters


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

I LOVE pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.  But Starbucks keeps raising their prices so I can't keep going there for my craving.  So I searched for hours looking for a low-fat "skinny" pumpkin spice latte recipe.

Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latte -printable recipe here

Adapted from this recipe
Ingredients (makes 1 latte)
  • 1/2 cup fat free mik
  • 1/2 tablespoon canned pumpkin
  • 2 packets of Splenda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup of strongly brewed coffee (OR 1 lungo espresso pod from Nespresso)
Ingredients with my Fortissio Lungo Nespresso pod and my Nespresso maker

Instructions:
  1. In a saucepan, whisk together mik, pumpkin, and Splenda on medium heat.  
  2. Once steaming, mix in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.  Now whisk quickly so it develops a nice foam.
  3. Add to coffee.
  4. You may add whipped cream to the top with a dash of pumpkin pie spice, but hey, I thought this was a skinny latte?
  5. Enjoy. You just saved $5 and 250 calories from Starbucks. 
  6. Finished product

To save the canned pumpkin, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge. May store for up to 5 days.

Estimated calories: 50!  Basically calories from the fat free milk and a tablespoon of pumpkin!  Compare that to 300 at Starbucks!



Monday, November 4, 2013

Wool Blankets for your Bed

Pendleton Wool Blankets... a Favorite Thing!

It's getting chilly outside and I have switched out my bedding.  One of my favorite things is having a Pendleton wool blanket on my bed.  Have you heard of the company?  

A brief company history:
Thomas Kay, founder, started making woolen blankets in 1863 in the new state of Oregon.  In 1895, he began making trading blankets for Native Americans.  He studied the different tribes and produced blankets in their tribe's colors.  They became prized for ceremonial use.  In 1920s he began producing wool shirts, perfect for loggers and those who worked outdoors.  The company also started producing blankets for the lodges at the National Parks. The blankets and shirts remain popular today.
  
Let's take a look:


The Big Medicine Blanket... I own this one

Silver Bark Blanket

Spirit of the Peoples Blanket

The Glacier Park blanket... I own this one too!
The Stewart Tartan Throw

a picnic blanket... notice one side is waterproof!

A plain white woolen blanket... goes with everything!

Another pretty woolen throw
Those were just a few of the many different blanket and throw designs that the company has.  They come in a large variety of patterns and colors.  

Sometimes I think when using these blankets on your bed that there is too much pattern and design going on... and it ends up looking a little too much like a country cabin for me. Here's an example:
While I do think this blanket is really cute with the moose and bears, I would not have used matching pillows or the kitschy center pillow.  Also... hate the bed frame and the night stand.


Let's see how we can use the patterned wool blankets at home:
This one seems more suitable and feminine... since you can see the dust ruffle

The Glacier Park blanket!  Styled here as a minimalist style.

Of course red woolen blankets always look good at Christmas!

Here is a woolen blanket, as featured in Elle Decor Magazine.  Looks like English Countryside!

Another way to use woolen blankets on your bed... just use a throw.

This is actually from Ralph Lauren... but gives you an idea of how you can use tartan.

This is also from Ralph Lauren, but gives you an idea of how to use the Jacquard.
Are your feet cold at night?  They won't be any longer with a Pendleton wool blanket!  I confess, I have a blanket/throws problem. I LOVE blankets and throws.  You can never have too many.  I have 2 Pendleton blankets, 1 pendleton throw, and 1 woolen throw I purchased in Ireland.  I think to decorate my "Christmas" bed I'm going to purchase a tartan woolen blanket. 

You can order your blankets here!

I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog,Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch', Wow us Wednesdays! at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here,Feathered Nest Fridayand Autumn Abounds Party at French Country Cottage, Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, and a stroll through life inspire me tuesday's.