Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've been seeing puzzle motif in all sorts of products so I thought I'd put together a post that includes puzzle gift ideas.  Have fun checking it out.
These puzzleboards multi-task as serving plate, cutting board and when lined up, as a table runner or large work space. Each piece $26
Cute way to cut a sandwich in half or make a bread puzzle.  Puzzle Shape Sandwich Cutters (Set of 4) $14.21

A Puzzle Stool can be used as seating or a side table.  Available in mango wood and foil covered mango wood, these stools interlock to make a larger table.  Price upon request.
Some Etsy Finds
1 cuff links $19.99 geekcuffs  2 Autism awareness necklace $18 tamanthajewellry  3 set of 4 coasters $20 zipper8design 4 keychain $34 SilverShedStudio
Elephant with calf kid's puzzle $14.95 usnavyretiredvet on Etsy

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Houses

I'm back from my week in the Bahamas and gone are my bathing suit and flip flops, exchanged for coat and gloves.  It is definitely time to formulate a plan for the holidays.  I've sent out invitations for two parties.  
We are hosting a weeknight open house for neighbors next week.  In Michigan, once it gets cold, you don't see neighbors again until it is warm, so it will be nice get together.  
The Sunday before Christmas is our annual Christmas cocktail party.  We invite friends and work colleagues for "sips and nibbles".  Hubby and I make all the food and often as early as July, people start asking what the theme of the party will be.  I'm still in the planning stage and can't answer that yet.

I have very fond memories of family gingerbread decorating parties hosted by my friend Kathy.  She and her husband, James, would make gingerbread structures, one per family and tubs of frosting.  Each family would brings bags and bags of candy to decorate the structures.  The kids would slather on creamy, white frosting and then add decor in the form of candy, marshmallows and cereals with their own creative style.  The decorated houses would last a long time as they were assembled with a hot glue gun for stability.  
Holiday Houses
4  Gingerbread House Kit $29.95 King Arthur Flour 
Buying a gingerbread house kit would be an easy way to create a holiday house.  Assemble the house and then have fun decorating.  Your imagination and creativity can run wild.
This cute little cabin is made of graham crackers.  The directions are here from the Martha Stewart website.  This could be a really fun party idea for kids or adults.  
If you are really ambitious, try this Martha Stewart peppermint house.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cyber Sale

In "honor" of Cyber Monday, I am offering a 10% discount in my Etsy shop from now until Tuesday morning.  Use the code CYBERSALE when checking out for a 10% discount.

Here are some examples of what is in the shop.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Noon Carillon Concert

One of the most charming occurrences in Hope Town on Elbow Cay is the daily noon carillon concert.  Broadcast from St James Methodist Church, these bell concerts are composed of familiar hymns and choruses.  These lovely melodies blend with the sound of the crashing waves behind the church and the engine of the noon ferry and other boats in the harbour.  I love this daily "time-out" for reflection.  
Happy Thanksgiving
see you on Monday after the shopping frenzy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Festive Light-string Add Ons

I bid on these cute lighthouse add-ons for a light string.  The event was a fundraiser for the fire department in Hope Town, Elbow Cay.  

These are apropos because of the famous lighthouse on the island.

You can find add-ons for light strands in all sorts of themes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Flavor of the Week: Bananas

Bananas?  I know, you were expecting cranberry or pumpkin or something more appropriate for Thanksgiving.  Well, I'm in the Bahamas and bananas are appropriate here.  And yes, they celebrate Thanksgiving here on Thursday too.
You are probably wondering why I am showing you a photo of a tropical tree.  I planted this banana tree about a year ago.  That purple thing in the center/top of the photo is the flower shoot that precedes a bunch of bananas.  This is the first time this tree is going to produce fruit.  The bananas will be ripe in about 4-5 months and I think I'll be back in the Bahamas for that event.
Bananas are the most popular fruit in the USand one of the healthiest fruits.  They are loaded with potassium and a large banana has bout 140 calories.  These popular treats even have about 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.  I usually eat one on the way home from the gym.  You probably have a few sitting on the counter at home.
Our family is not too fond of traditional Thanksgiving desserts.  Last year I made a banana custard tart and no one missed pumpkin pie!  Sorry I don't have that recipe here in the Bahamas to share with you.  (if you want it, tell me so in a comment and I'll get it to you when I get home)  The banana tart tatin in the photo above looks mighty yummy to me.  See the recipe here.  It's by Gale Gand.  I've had some of her wonderful desserts at the restaurant, Tru.

So here are ways to use banana and flavor combos:
  • top your morning cereal
  • banana bread - I made some today and added fresh coconut - Spiral Style banana bread recipe
  • banana splits
  • banana pancakes or pancakes topped with sauteed bananas and pecans
  • bananas foster
  • banana pudding made with Nilla wafers  (too sweet for me!)
  • banana cream pie
  • peanut butter and bananas 
  • bananas and honey on toast
  • bananas and chocolate
  • banana cakes/cupcakes/frosting
  • bananas topped with yogurt and granola
  • bananas in your oatmeal
  • bananas and coconut
  • dried banana chips
  • chocolate covered frozen bananas
  • banana daiquiri
  • in a smoothie
You get the idea.  And if your banana are over ripe, peel and freeze them and they'll be ready for use at another time.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm trying not to fast-forward to Christmas without taking time for Thanksgiving...
Advent calendars

Advent calendars by Spiralstyle on Polyvore.com

...but to  have an Advent Calendar ready for December 1 it is necessary to shop in advance.  I love the anticipation of Christmas with a calendar countdown.  Some calendars have a little treat or toy behind a door.  Some calendars are as simple as peeling back a paper door to reveal a picture.  I love the calendars that reveal an ornament to hang on the calendar tree or scene.

2  Sleigh With Gifts Shaped Advent Calendar, $12  This is filled with candy !

Calendars can be religious or secular.  
These calendars are handcrafted from Etsy.
1. Hand knitted Stockings 12 Days of Christmas  unashooshie $100 
2. Heirloom Advent Calendar sweetbriarfamily $95

Most of these calendars are re-usable and can be enjoyed for many years.  
I found this Online Calendar that is interactive. 
I think Advent Calendars are a great tradition.  Is this a tradition in your house?

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Jewelry Designs

I'm excited about these new pieces in my Etsy shop.

I particularly love this necklace.  

and chandelier earrings.
By far my best seller is Hammered Bangles.  Sold in sets of 3 or 5 these make great gifts.  If you order from my Etsy site, send me a convo and I'll waive the shipping.

Have a great weekend.  See you on Monday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Safe Keeping

I'm on my way to my Bahamas house for a week or relaxation.  As careful as I try to be, I'm always a bit concerned I'll loose some important documents or my purse or wallet will be stolen and I'll be stuck and not able to get back into the US.  

To make life easier if this would happen, I've taken precautions.  Scan your passport and then email it to yourself.  Keep this email in a folder in your online account and you'll have access to this no matter where you are.  It will certainly help speed things along if you need to replace your passport since you'll have all the necessary information at hand.

Do the same with drivers license, health insurance cards, bank cards, credit cards and other important pieces of information.  I emailed each piece separately and included online id and passwords so that I could access accounts and contact the various institutions.
While I hope I never need to use these saved emails, I'm sure glad they are there if the need does arrive.  

Do you have tricks to share for travel?  I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cleaning Gold and Gem Tutorial

Last week I wrote a guest post for my blogger friend, Sahi of BarelyVogue.  I thought I'd re-post today for those of you that missed it.  A little tutorial on cleaning your jewelry for the holidays.

Holiday parties and events are all about  sparkle and shine.  Make sure your "bling" does just that.  Follow these easy steps to bring out the best in your gold and gem jewelry.
 Gold jewelry does not tarnish, the dull look is from body oils, soap and lotions.  A few common household product will clean your jewelry for a bright shine.  
In a bowl, combine hot water with ammonia in a 6 to 1 ratio.  I used 1 1/2 cups hot water with 1/4 cup ammonia.  Add to that a few drops of dishwashing liquid.  Place your gold jewelry in this bath and allow to soak for about 20 minutes.
Using a toothbrush and wearing gloves, gently scrub each piece of jewelry.  Be sure to scrub around and under prongs.  Dirt gets caked under the stones so be sure to clean underneath for the light to pass through the stone.  That is what makes the stone sparkle!  Rinse well in clean water.  If you do not use a bowl, PLEASE close the sink drain.  I am not including a tutorial on how to retrieve a ring from the drain pipe!
This process will clean the dirt from your jewelry but if your pieces are scratched you will need to take them to a jeweler to be buffed.  Also, if stones are loose, make sure a jeweler fixes the problem.  By the way, make sure your good jewelry is cover by your insurance policy.  Keep appraisals in a folder for safe keeping.
Dry your jewelry with a soft cloth and admire the sparkle.  

If you have white gold, do not use ammonia.  Clean this jewelry with a paste of baking soda and water and scrub with a toothbrush.  White gold is plated with rhodium for that bright, white appearance.  If your white gold is looking a bit yellow, that means it is time to have the piece re-plated.  Take it to a reputable jeweler for replating.  The rhodium wears away over time with friction, lotions and soaps.  

I hope you are inspired to clean your jewelry so it looks it's best.  Take care of your investment.  

Smitten with Scarves

When in Paris, I love to people watch.  Mostly I am watching in awe of the tremendous style that French women seem to ooze out of their pores.  In the cooler months especially, it seems that no one leaves the house without a scarf.  
photo credit:  Street Peeper Easy Fashion
Scarves are one of  my favorite accessories.  Not only do they keep me warm during Michigan winters, they can add great color and interest to an outfit.  I always travel with a scarf or two.  A long, wide scarf is great to snuggle up with on a plane.  A basic travel wardrobe is expanded with the addition of a few, easy to pack, scarves.  
My current favorites: 1  French  2  Target  3  Target

scarves by Spiralstyle    
These are a few scarves I wouldn't mind owning, especially an animal print.

A scarf needs to look effortless, like you just threw it on as you left home.  For those of us who can't quite pull that off on our own, here is a tutorial by a lovely French woman.  You'll like the music too.  

Click here to view another video by Deja Pseu.  http://www.unefemme.net/

Do you wear scarves?  Long or square?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thinking About Thanksgiving and Turkey

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away.  Menus are being planned and assignments are given.  Who's making which side dishes?  What pies are we having?  

Seems every year there is a controversy over preparing the traditional meal.  To stuff or not to stuff?  Deep fry or roast?  Brine or not to Brine?  This year the buzz is whole bird or parts?  
Chefs say that if you prepare the bird whole, some parts will be either undercooked or overcooked.  A fully cooked and safe turkey reaches the temp of 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the leg.  To achieve an evenly cooked turkey, the bird must be broken down and breast roasted separately from legs and thighs.  
If the turkey is broken down into parts, gone is that spectacular, Norman Rockwell-style presentation.  How many families really carve the turkey at the table?  In our house it makes such a huge mess that it is always done in the kitchen.  You can read more about breaking down the turkey in this NY Times article.  
I was very surprised to read in the article that Thanksgiving Day is the busiest day for restaurants in New York City.  Seems turkeys are too big for most apartment sized ovens.  That, plus they would rather go out for the traditional meal than eat dry turkey at home.  
What is your tradition?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guest Blog and Holiday Idea

I was guest blogger on Barely Vogue today.  You can view the post by clicking here.  My blogging friend, Sahi, asked me to to do a guest post and I was delighted.  She will return the favor for me next week.   Check out Barely Vogue for Sahi's great style inspiration and guidance.  
This is my first holiday decor project.  Just an empty wine bottle filled with a strand of white mini lights.  So the project was not drinking the wine to have an empty bottle, it was finding a strand of lights that did not have a connecting end.  The connecting end is too big to fit inside the bottle opening.  I found a strand that did not have an end to end connection at a garden shop.  I only bought one and had to order more.  You can find them and order online by clicking here.  Wouldn't it make a cute gift to give someone a bottle of wine AND a strand of the lights to go inside the empty bottle?

Happy weekend everyone and see you on Monday.

TARGET for Holiday Shopping Ease

There's even more to love about TARGET

The thought of shopping from my sofa, in a bathrobe, sipping coffee, in front of a fire, is very appealing.  No crowds.  No full parking lots.  No juggling packages.  TARGET makes can make it a reality.
  • Daily Deals - exclusive one-day savings of up to 50% off Target's regular prices.  Sign up at Target.com/dailydeals
  • Free shipping event -Spend $50 or more online between Nov. 21 to Dec. 11 and receive free shipping directly to your home.
  • Christmas trees - Order your Christmas tree from Target.com and delivery is free.  WHAT?
  • Thanksgiving Day online specials for a shopping head start.  Up to 50% off some electronics.
  • Target store doors open at 4 am Back Friday
  • Download a Target app for your mobile device to enable easy shopping, promotional material, scanable coupons etc.      
  • Target.com/Christmas will give you all the information in one spot
Make your list and check it twice.

Have a very special weekend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Girls' Night Out: Northville, MI

Ready... set...shop!
If you live in the Detroit Metro area, visit Northville on Friday, Nov 12 for Girls' Night Out
 Starring, The Gallery, is bedecked for the holidays and ready for shoppers. 
  Take 15% off total purchase at Starring during Girls' Night Out.
 I was in the gallery on Wednesday to deliver my holiday jewelry and was very impressed with all the wonderful gifts.  Great price points and there is something, actually, lots of somethings, for everyone on your list.
This happy, stuffed bear is sitting with some great holiday napkins, place mats, and candles.

Girls' Night Out is a city-wide event from 6-9 pm.  There is a raffle and an After Glo at the Northville Sports Den at 9;30 pm.  

Flavor of the Week: Orange

Oranges are not exotic or uncommon and are often overlooked as a flavor addition to foods.  We typically think of oranges for breakfast but they can add so much flavor to countless dishes.  Orange flavor in various forms can be added to salads, vegetables, proteins, desserts and of course beverages.
Most of the orange is edible.  Zest the rind for intense flavor.  Candied peel is a traditional fruitcake ingredient.  Segments of the orange that are removed from the pith and rind are called supremes.  To view Martha Stewart's directions for supreming citrus as in the photo above, click here.  Maybe the juice is the most popular part of an orange.  Over 550 million gallons of orange juice are sold in the US each year. 

Use oranges..
  • Salads - toss supremes with greens, use juice in vinaigrette dressing
  • Citric acid in orange juice will tenderize meat in a marinade
  • Rub zest on fish or fowl before roasting or grilling
  • Use supremes in yogurt parfait with flaked coconut and sliced almonds
  • When baking, add zest to shortbreads, cakes, muffins
  • Orange peel is a traditional ingredient in Daube, the classic French beef stew
  • Orange flavor compliments sweet potatoes, asparagus, and squash.  
  • Add to a stir-fry
  • Mimosas, Sangria, Screwdriver are cocktails with orange juice
  • Adding orange juice or zest to a dish brightens the flavor
  • To get your vitamin C

Use  orange juice instead of vinegar or lemon juice in a vinaigrette.  This dressing has an Asian twist with sesame oil.  This Bon Appetite recipe can be viewed by clicking here.
You probably can't tell but this is a rice pilaf with orange zest and juice.  I love it with fish or fowl.  I make it in a rice cooker and just throw all the ingredients in the cooker and push the button.  Couldn't be easier.  The recipe will be at the bottom of the post.
Hubby loves this pork tenderloin. (shown here with whipped sweet potatoes)  Chipotle chilies in adobo are combined with orange juice for a marinade along with lime, oregano and cumin. The result is a VERY flavorful pork tenderloin.  View recipe here
I'm not a beer drinker but Hubby says I'd be remiss to not include Bell's Oberon beer.  This is a summer beer with a citrusy taste, brewed here in Michigan but widely available.  It is most often served with an orange wedge.

Orange Rice Pilaf
2 tablespoons  butter
1/4 cup chopped onion or shallot
grated rind of 1 orange
juice of 2 oranges + enough chicken stock to make 1 3/4 cup liquid
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup slivered almonds for garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a rice cooker except almond and push the button!  If you don't have a rice cooker, I would imagine you would put all ingredients except nuts in a covered pot, bring to a boil and then simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.  * but please consider buying a rice cooker.  You can purchase a non-stick variety for under $20.


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