Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide 2014

I have put together some of my favorite gifts in my Christmas Gift Guide this year.
Let's take a look!

For the Fashionista...
I love this Pendleton wool jacquard coat!  It is very fashionable, especially this year with the various tribal prints hitting the runways.  It is also extremely warm!  Pendleton "Tillamook Toggle" Coat, $249
Pendleton Tillamook Toggle Coat

For the Fitness Guru...
This is an awesome product that lets you track your steps, distance, sleep, and calories... Fit Bit Flex, $100

Fit Bit Flex

If the fitness guru in your family is also into fashion, Tory Burch came out with this cute line of products too: a necklace and several pretty bracelets!  Only problem: you also have to buy the fit bit, so the true price is $100 plus the price of the Tory Burch accessory.  Tory Burch Fit Bit, $175 

Tory Burch fit bit collection

For the Beauty...
This eye palette by Urban Decay has been a #1 best seller for a few years now.  It has fantastic colors that look great on all skin tones.  You can get it here: Urban Decay "Naked" Palette, $54  There's reason why they also came out with Naked 2 and Naked 3 sets...
Urban Decay "Naked" Palette, $54 

For the Guys...
Patterned mens' socks are very in right now.  They look cool.  The guys may not like clothes for Christmas, but they will like these socks!
Assorted Socks (5-Pack)
Topman assorted socks 5-pack, $25
For the Techie...
This Bowers and Wilkins wireless speaker produces orchestra-quality sound from the size of a little box.  It works really well with your Apple products, too! Bowers and Wilkins Z2, $199
Z2 Wireless Music System
Bowers and Wilkins Z2

Under $20...
This holiday gift set of pretty red nail polish for the holidays is pretty!  It is a great gift for under $20 and would also make a great stocking stuffer! Deborah Lippman "Jazz Standards" Nail Polish , $19
For the Hostess...
This is my favorite Christmas scent.  It is a great hostess gift! "Frasier Fir" candle, by Thymes, $18
Candle Tin
"Frasier Fir" candle, by Thymes, $18
For the College Student...
This game is awkwardly inappropriate... and fun!  Perfect for the college student. Cards Against Humanity, $10

For the Little Kids...
This marble maze is sure to amaze the kids.  I remember having a similar thing when I was a child and I loved it! Marble set, $26, Amazon.

For the Girls...
This Frozen doll set of Princess Elsa and Anna are sure to be a hit.  Or... pretty much anything Frozen-related. 
Disney Frozen Royal Sisters Doll (2-Pack)
Disney Frozen Royal Sisters Doll (2-Pack), $34, Amazon

For the Boys...
Boys like legos.  They have been around for a long time.  This, new themes came out for legos.  This minecraft lego set is sure to be a hit!
LEGO Minecraft The Village 21105
Lego Minecraft, $34

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas things that caught my eye... but I didn't buy.

Here are some things that caught my eye whilst shopping around for this Christmas season.  I didn't buy them due to budget, but I like them!

This holiday candle by Nest.  I've seen it at so many places.  Actually, I've smelled it too!  There I am, shopping around, and I smell something good! And I look for the scent... and it's this one.   Although I don't know if it beats my FAVORITE Christmas scent, Frasier Fir by Thymes. 
Nest "Holiday" candle, 
Williams Sonoma Christmas Peppermint Bark. It's SO good. But I never buy any. Just "sample" it.  Why is it so expensive? Why is it better than all the knock offs??!

The Original Peppermint Bark
Peppermint Bark, Williams Sonoma 
I wish I had a video of these candle lights below.  The flame DANCES.  It looks like a REAL candle on the tree!  It's so cool!
Image 1
Luminara Dancing Christmas Candles 
Oh geez, Juliska. WHY did you have to go and redesign your dinner plate to make it cute?  Maybe next year... I'll keep my eye out on you...
 Ce     Scallop     Dinner      Ruby
Juliska Winter Frolic Scallop Dinner Plate

Saw this cute stocking holder at Anthropologie.  It's not very Christmas-y.  But I liked it.  It seems solid, would do well holding a stocking that is full!
Snow Hopper Stocking Holder at Anthropologie
My husband and I have eyed these trees for several years.  They look really cool. The question is, where do we put it?? We don't have room right now. You can't hang ornaments on them really.
Winter Wonderland Tree 3' - Birch
Birch Holiday Lit Tree, Restoration Hardware
This year Restoration came out with this string of ornament lights. They look super cool!!  They are also super expensive.  Le sigh.
Starry Glass Bulb String Lights, Restoration Hardware

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Tablescape #2

I got sick of my pumpkin Thanksgiving tablescape.  So I made this one for Thanksgiving.

The pinecone is from my yard. I let it sit away from the bugs for 1 month before I brought it inside. Hopefully no spiders crawl out!

I printed off a name and used a gold pen to highlight the edges.  Simple but elegant.

Unfortunately I didn't take very many pictures.  The centerpiece is just faux candles and birch candles.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

Today I've rounded up my recipes that are perfect for Thanksgiving.  I have appetizers, sides, salad, soup, and dessert lined up for you!  The only thing I don't have is a turkey.

To start, I recommend this cranberry salsa.  It's tangy but sweet. It's also my #1 pin on pinterest.
Cranberry salsa Recipe

These homemade onion rolls were a hit last year. They are good!
Thanksgiving Onion Roll Recipe
This is a nice healthier alternative to plain ol' mashed potatoes.  It's mashed cauliflower with a potato or two thrown in.  I will be eating these this year instead of carb filled mashed potatoes.

Healthy Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
This is a nice vegetable side dish you can serve.  Plus, it adds some pretty color to your table!

Autumn Roasted Carrots
If you're one to serve salad at Thanksgiving, this is a nice Fall harvest salad. It has cranberries, apples, pecans, and a honey mustard dressing.
Fall Harvest Salad
If you're a soup person, this is a nice soup to serve for Thanksgiving.  It could also be the "main dish" for your vegetarian friends.

German Pumpkin Soup (Kurbissuppe)
If you serve multiple pies at Thanksgiving or are not a pumpkin pie person, this is a GREAT apple pie.  It is so so good, I highly recommend it.

The Best Apple Pie Recipe
Hopefully you found a recipe you want to try this year!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cheese Gougère

Ever had a cheese gougère?? No? Well, you are missing out.  They are so delicious.

We made them for Thanksgiving appetizers last year... and they were gone in two seconds.

A Gougère is basically a French cheese puff.  How could it not be good?


  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese 

1. Boil the water and butter.  Combine the water, butter, and salt into a 2 to 4 quart saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from heat and add the flour all at once.  Stir vigoursly until the mixture comes together and resembles mashed potatoes.
3. Return the pan to medium-low heat and stir for 3-5 minutes to dry out the dough.  The dough is ready when it glistens and is thick enough to hold a spoon upright.
4.  Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Beat the dough on medium speed until it stops steaming.
5. Continue beating and add the egg in four additions.  Wait until each is absorbed before adding the next.  The dough should be a creamy batter in the end. Now beat in the cheese.
6. Heat the oven to 450F.  Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto lined sheet pans. (line with parchment paper or silicone baking mats).  Space them at least one inch apart.
7. Bake for 5 minutes then turn the heat down to 350F.  Bake for another 20-25 minutes. The gougeres are finished when they are puffed and deep golden brown and dry to the touch.  They will feel light and hollow when you pick them up.
8. Transfer to a cooling rack.  Serve warm.
piped out and ready to bake!
finished product!
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Black Bean Sweet Potato Bites Recipe - Healthy Thanksgiving Appetizer

This is a great recipe for an appetizer this Fall!  What's great about it is that black beans and sweet potatoes are extremely healthy foods.  Perfect appetizer for those with high cholesterol, diabetes, dieters, and also vegetarians!

Black Bean Sweet Potato Bites

  • Sweet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 can black beans 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt
  • optional: dash of chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes approximately 1/2 inch thick, and place in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the bottoms are browned.
  3. While the potatoes are baking, simmer the can of black beans over the stove.  Add the cumin to the black beans and a little salt. If you like your beans with a kick, add a dash of cayenne or chili powder.  Simmer for approx 10-15, until the liquid has boiled off.
  4. Now that the sweet potatoes are done in the oven, add a scoop of black beans on top of the round.  Add some crumbed cotija cheese and fresh cilantro.
  • If you want your appetizers more bite sized, choose a narrower potato as those are the base. 
  • Instead of cumin and chili powder, you could always add your favorite Mexican spice mix to the beans (like Mrs. Dash's chipotle mix).
healthy Thanksgiving appetizer

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Antique Velvet Picture Frames

I recently found this cute velvet picture frame made of velvet and metal thread.  It reminded me a lot of the antique velvet picture frames.  The problem with the antique velvet frames is that most of them have faded or have damage.

The nice thing about this new one I found is that it is in perfect condition!

Let's take a closer look at the details... It is real velvet with silver covered copper threads. So yes, it will tarnish over time.
excuse the poor photoshopping; I am internet shy and don't want my face everywhere!
It's hard to find new picture frames that are made of such quality. When I saw it I knew that I had to take it home with me!

It reminded me a lot of the old velvet picture frames... let me share.  This beautiful French picture frame is made with velvet.  It contains a painted picture as photography hadn't quite caught on yet!
Antique French 1800’s Neoclassical Ormalu (bronze Dore) Velvet Shield Frame Picture Frames photo
1800s French velvet ormalu frame source
When photos became accessible to the "mainstream" thanks to Kodak in the 1880s, people wanted to display their pictures.  Remember though, that pictures were still really expensive to take.  An expensive picture needs an expensive frame!

1800s hand embroidered photo frame source
Then came along the fancy photo albums from the Victorian era.  Check out this one below... You fold it down to reveal a whole book!  It's interesting how much the velvet has faded over time.
look at how it faded! source
Here's the photo album opened:
how cool is that?

A pair of velvet French frames from the Napoleon era...
Napoleon era French embroidered frames source
I like the metal on this velvet frame...
french brocante velvet-frame
19th century French velvet frame source
I like the beading on this velvet frame.  What's unusual is how little damage there is to the velvet.
1800s French velvet frame source

Now, this is a clutch below.  But it reminded me a lot of the picture frame as it is a velvet clutch with silver thread!
1850s Napoleon era velvet French coin purse source
... Then I got side tracked.  The company for the picture source below takes old embroidery and turns it into pillows!  I love this metal embroidery!!
old metal embroidery tapestry turned into a pillow source
The thistles on my picture frame remind me a little bit of Queen Elizabeth's coronation gown.  On the right you can see some thistles, representing Scotland.
the thistles on my picture frame are reminiscent of the Queen's coronation gown source
The metal thread also reminds me of some of this handiwork:
Antique Ottoman Gold Thread Densely Embroidered Large Panel On Burgundy Velvet
Ottoman period silver and gold thread source
While trying to find pictures of velvet picture frames I ran into this wonderful hand embroidered metal thread sheep on velvet!  How cute!!
And then I found this wonderful embroidered Eagle!

Well, I got a little side tracked at the end with the eagle and sheep.  But, I love my new picture frame!!
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