Friday, December 31, 2010

5-4-3-2-1...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Where has the year gone?
It's amazing when you stop and think about it, how fast times goes.
Looking back over this year, I have so many things to be thankful for.
It has truly been a great year.
I have had the opportunity to travel, make new friends,
 and just enjoy time at home with my family.
We have our health and happiness and I can only hope,
 that 2011 brings us more of the same.

We are not much for partying when it comes to New Years Eve...
truth be told, Chad & I will likely 
be in bed before 10 o'clock tonight.
We usually make some appetizers, have a glass of champagne,
pour the kids some Sprite in a glass and make a toast to our family.

So here is what's on our menu this evening...

CHAMBORD POMEGRANATE SPARKLE

1-1/2 oz Champagne
3/4 oz Chambord
1/2 oz Vodka
1 oz Pomegranate juice


Shake all ingredients except champagne with ice
 in a martini shaker and strain into a flute glass.
Top with champagne and enjoy!

And then these little spicy numbers!
One dish...can't beat that for cleanup.
Some celery sticks on the side and we'll be good to go.

SRIRACHA-GLAZED CHICKEN

In a glass baking dish mix together:
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1-1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Add 1-1/2 pounds chicken wings or drumsticks and toss to coat.
Marinate 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Preheat oven to 475 °
Bake until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens,
about 30 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through.


Garnish with chopped scallions and 
serve with ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce.

So wether your plans this evening are simple and at home,
or you get all dressed up and head out to a party,
be safe and have fun.
Wishing you all the very best in 2011.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snoop away...

Ok, so normally I don't condone snooping...
 or looking over someone's shoulder
 as they surf the internet,
but...
when it means that wonderful,
I mean truly wonderful things appear under your Christmas tree...
well, then that's a different story and I think...
perfectly acceptable!

Most mornings I sit with my cup of coffee and
 do my morning blog run.
I have my favorites that I visit and as I sit there,
my kids float in and out of the room,
 never really paying attention
 to what Mom is doing, or so I thought.
Boy was I wrong!

My bloggy friend Patty over at
My Life Under The Bus
ran this great post a while back with this very shirt...
I seem to recall squealing something very girly like,
"omg, isn't that the cutest shirt ever",
not paying much attention
 to my 14 year old who was standing there.

Mr Earth and Mrs Moon t-shirt

Well it turns out that 14 year olds pay
 much closer attention than you think.
You guessed it...all wrapped up for Mom,
paid for with his "report card" and lawn mowing money.
Truly the BEST shirt ever!!

It turns out that Chad snoops too...
yep, my etsy favorites...so in that case,
I say...snoop away!

Insanely delicious smelling soaps from
Garden of Holly...
turned up on Christmas morning.

Ginger Lemongrass Soap with Coriander

And jams and jellies from
Kitchen Voodoo.

Yum!

Some fantastic new cookbooks too!


Including this one that I had blogged about
 when I made her delicious Pad Thai .
I can't wait to try out some of her other recipes.



And then this gorgeous
Stemellina.
I wore it to Christmas dinner that evening.
I absolutely love it!

So a big thank you to the great snoops in my family...
for making my Christmas extra special!

What wonderful moments do you have to share from Christmas?
I want to hear all about them!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Enchanted Evening

It's funny how things change over the years
and yet they stay the same.

We've had a Holiday tradition in our house
 for so many years now that I can't tell you when it even began.
It started before our oldest was even in school,
and now he's grown and no longer lives at home.

Christmas Eve is a time of magic and anticipation.
 The first time I laid eyes on 
Polar Express book,
I was thoroughly enchanted.


To me this book defines the childlike view of Christmas.
The fascination and curiosity.
It holds wonder and amazement within it's pages,
with the most eye pleasing,
slightly feathery looking illustrations.


So every Christmas Eve before bed we have read this book as a family.
The ritual has changed over the years.
The pages have become slightly yellowed and softer
from the excited fingers that have
 turned the pages many, many times.

In the beginning before the kids could read, we did all the reading.
Then as they got older they would read a word or maybe a line.
Then as they got a little older still, they would tackle a whole page.
Slowly, tripping over words, their little fingers following underneath, 
looking up at us for help when they
 just couldn't sound something out.


We take turns.
 We pass the book to the next reader as we finish our page.
Everyone is quiet as the others are reading.
They wait with baited breath
 for the the book to be placed in their hands.
I love the hush that falls over our house.


Then when it's done,
the chatter emerges.
"You still believe right?"
"I heard the bell ringing, didn't you?"
It makes my heart smile.

We end our evening with 
"hot cocoa as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars."
So with tummies full of chocolatey goodness,
and their heads dancing with dreams
 of Christmas marvels, they drift off to sleep.
And the book?
It gets put back on the shelf, 
anxiously awaiting it's voyage next Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas!

The Bell Still Rings For Me
Mady Sunshine
I'd like to take a moment to thank those of you
 that take time out of your day to stop by and visit,
those that leave comments, send me convos or emails.
I have met some great people out here in "blogland",
and made some lovely "bloggy" friends.
So to each and everyone of you and your families,
have a wonderful Holiday season!

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Icy Dip

Brrrrr!
It's chilly weather in most of the country these days.
And while we probably want to be warm and toasty,
there's one thing that I always want
 to stay nice and chilled,
and that's my dips for a party.

When I saw this great little product from
Dips 'N' More
I knew that I had to try it out!

I first came across Sue's store on etsy
and after talking with her,
she happily put together a little custom pack for me to try.

So meet the
Dip Chiller


Simply fill the outer dish with water...


Insert the smaller top bowl and freeze...
That's it!!


What you end up with after it's frozen is a
dish that will keep your dip chilled for hours!

No more worrying about that dip that's been sitting out,
perfect for outdoor picnics in the summer too!
It also has a dip lid for easy transporting.


Keep it stored in the freezer and it's always ready to go!

Now while the container is totally cool,
(no pun intended)
what goes inside it is even better.

Dips 'N' More
has almost 30 different dip mixes,
so you're sure to find something
 to please your taste buds!


Sue sent me the 
Kiss-n-Tell-Garlic dip mix to try.


Simply mix up the dry seasoning
with some mayonnaise and sour cream,
chill in the refrigerator for a few hours...



And presto...
a delicious dip to fill your
 chiller with and enjoy with chips...


or veggies...


The Kiss n Tell Garlic dip is out of this world delicious!
It was so fresh tasting,
you would never know it came from a mix.
This is a must "have on hand item"
in my pantry from now on!!

Sue tells me that "it's her favorite too and is great to use
in pasta noodles, to spice up the dish".
I can't wait to try it out like that!


I also got to try out the 
Love the name!
A fun reference to where the dip comes from...
just outside of Green Bay, WI.


This dip has a nice heat, 
gives a great little spicy kick
 to whatever you use it on.
My whole family loved this one as a chip dip.
It's kind of like eating pepper jack cheese...
without the cheese!

also carries some sweet dip mixes like

Perfect for a fruit tray or
 even spreading on bagels for breakfast!
Yummy!!

You can taste the difference in all the
gourmet dip mixes.
They are the most flavorful dips that I've ever eaten.

Sue has graciously extended
 a special offer to my blog readers.
Purchase any 3 dip mixes or a gift set
before the end of December
and she'll throw in one extra pack
of dip for you to try...in whatever flavor you'd like!

Just make sure to mention that you
 read about her right here on

You can find Sue here...
or
and here on

A special thank you to Sue
 for doing up a great little custom pack for me to try.

I enjoyed every "chilly" mouthful!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Paper Tree

I have a problem...
A tree problem to be exact.
I love to decorate my Christmas tree.
The problem is that I like to change it every year.
I get a "bee in my bonnet" to do something new and exciting.

This year was no exception and for some reason
 I got hooked on paper.
Paper ornaments, paper garland and paper pom poms.

So I give you,
 My Paper Tree...



I love the paper pom poms.
They are from Pom Love a fun little shop on etsy.

I nestled them in tree branches...


Tucked them into the mantle display...



And instead of a traditional star, 
our tree has a huge Pom Pom topper!


Then I found this great paper garland
 from the etsy shop
 made from an old Italian book.
It reminded me of our trip to Italy earlier this year
and I knew it had to be on our tree.



Then finally Anne from 
made me these wonderful 
vintage paper medallions.


I love the way the light sparkles off the tinsel!

It's not your traditional tree,
but I love it just the same.
It's new and exciting,
and it sent my "bee" buzzing away...
well at least till next Christmas rolls around anyways!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Upside Down Snowman

There he sat...
waiting for someone to come along and turn him over.


Meanwhile Santa and the Angel were quietly waiting down the way...


It's that time of year again at my house...
CHRISTMAS BUNCO!




Ready, Set, Roll!

It's always a good excuse to feed my friends some yummy food...
This year I did an Italian theme.

A country Italian salad with peppered salami, 
garbanzo beans and red onions.


Then crock pot lasagna...
I was inspired by this recipe, but since I'm not very good
at following directions, I added ground sausage and turkey,
fresh garlic and nutmeg.
It was outstanding and had everyone asking for the recipe...



Super easy and as an added bonus, 
because it cooks and bubbles away for hours,
the house smelled divine!


Salami and cheese tray for those little nibbles...
and of course it wouldn't be Italy without 
biscotti or tiramisu!



A yummy time was had by all!
There aren't too many things better
 than having your home filled with friends and laughter,
enjoying some delicious food.

We end the evening with a fun little gift exchange,
 where we pull numbers,
and can "steal" each others gifts.
There's always a lot of giggling and in the end
 everyone goes home with some fun little gift.

This year look what I got...


A fun polka dot set of cappuccino cups!

How perfectly Italian...
Cappuccino anyone?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Envelope Please...


And the award goes to....


So first off...I  never get awards for anything,
well maybe back in grade school I got something, 
but that was a looooooong time ago,
 so this is pretty cool!
I have to thank Sara over at her fun blog "Yes Teacher" 
for bestowing it upon me.

No podium or acceptance speeches here.
The rules are as follows:
I must share 7 things about myself and then 
choose some other worthy bloggers to entrust the
"Stylish Blogger Award" to.

Hmmmmmm.....Ok, here goes.

1. My favorite color is orange.

2. I like to wash dishes.  
Don't get me wrong, 
I don't want to work at Denny's washing dishes for 8 hours straight, 
but there's something relaxing about the warm water,
the suds, getting the kitchen back to normal.
(Ok, I'm a little weird)

3. I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups...way too much!

4. I'm a sucker for British movies, especially the "olden day" ones.
(Sigh.....aaahhhh Mr. Darcy)

5. I have 3 dogs... 2 Labs and a Yorkie.
If anyone has any creative uses for Lab hair...
I'd love to hear from you!

6. I work with special needs preschoolers, 3 and 4 year olds.
I love my job!

7. I love soccer.
(British football)
My favorite teams:
Manchester United &
whatever team my boys are playing for!


And now to spread the wealth...here's the blogs
 that I want to pass the award onto.
I know some of these lovely ladies may have already
been tagged, and I don't expect them to post twice but
these are my picks...

Lisa Roy Handbags
On A Branch
Poppy Place
Maureen Cracknell Handmade
Herzensarts Blog
The Story of Kat
Cubits Organic Living
Ponder and Stitch
My Life Under The Bus
Pickles on Pizza

These ladies show off some beautiful artistic talent,
make me laugh and even on occasion pull out a tissue or two.

Go and give their great blogs some love!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Old Time Kitchen Magic

Who doesn't like a little magic now and then?

And if that magic happens in the kitchen...
even better if you ask me!

Meet the magic makers themselves;
Heather and Rachel from


These ladies stir up some fantastic "potions"...
that are truly out of this world!


Both ladies learned "old time" things from their Mom's; 
like making jams, jellies, chutneys and syrups all from scratch.

They are both passionate about keeping the "home arts" alive...
a sentiment that I believe strongly in myself.
When I asked them about their work they told me, 
"teach your kids to cook, sew, make jam, whatever you can.  
It's part of what connects us to the world we live in...
and gives us appreciation for what we use everyday".
What a fabulous attitude!!

Heather and Rachel were generous enough to send me
 a sampler of their jams and jellies to savor.
What a delightful treat!


The first one I tried was their Sweet Red Pepper Jelly
It was scrumptious!  
Wonderful bell pepper flavor,
 just a touch of heat from the jalapenos, and a lovely smokiness.
Chad loved this one...it was his favorite.
We served it over a little goat cheese on crackers.
A great party appetizer!


Next up was the Spiced Plum Jam
This was a pure delight for my taste buds.
Sweet & spicy, just a hint of citrus,
a wonderful "Holiday-ish" taste.
(I'm hiding this one from everyone else)


I also got to sample their Cranberry Rosemary Thyme Jelly
This beautiful red jelly has lovely herbal hints of rosemary and thyme...
all from the ladies Kitchen Voodoo garden!
Step aside regular old cranberry sauce,
this is the perfect Holiday poultry companion...
think leftover turkey sandwiches.
Yum!


The next jelly I got to delight in was
This pale yellow jelly has the subtlest floral aroma,
is lightly sweet and refreshing.
A wonderfully delicate snack with some cream cheese,
 crackers and a glass of wine.

A jar of their Citrus Jelly tied up with a box of crackers
 and a bottle of wine would make a lovely hostess gift this season.


They have many more wonderful flavors in their etsy shop like,
and this one that I can't wait to try...
It looks delectable!


When I asked them what the best part of creating was,
they said "besides all the yummy goodness we come up with...
it's two friends cooking and chatting and laughing, 
while we chop, peel and simmer and in the end...
the result is delicious jam and jelly".

Sounds like magic to me!


Heather and Rachel have graciously extended to my blog readers,
10% off any purchases in the month of December.
Just use code: 
XMASJAM10
during your etsy checkout.


Thank you Heather and Rachel for happily sharing
 a little bit of your
Old Time Kitchen Magic
with me...
I savored every bite!

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