Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year: 2011

I'm back from the Bahamas.
Our family had a wonderful Christmas Holiday together.  Hope you did too.

Wishes from the beach crafted from driftwood, sea sponges and other flotsam

I wish all my readers a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year.
Spiral Style will return to normal on Monday.
Best Wishes and be safe.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Joyeux Noel, Felice Navidad

For all Spiral Style readers who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very meaningful holiday filled with love and family.  I'll be celebrating in the Bahamas with my family and I'm looking forward to the Christmas Eve service on the island.  I'll take some time off from Spiral Style but I'll post again before New Year's Eve.  Happy Holidays to all.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cake Wrecks

Need a chuckle at this point?  Take a minute from your rushing and stress to check out these cake wrecks.  These cakes were actually for sale.

Have a stress-free day.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Virtual Gift Basket

The whole family has assembled in the Bahamas for Christmas.  I'm about to go poolside but wanted to do a last minute gift post.  I had to leave behind a cooler filled with holiday food like beef tenderloins because of an embargo here in the Bahamas.  Frustrating to say the least.  No worries though.  I picked up some good stuff here.  My sisters gave me lots of yummy nibbles to bring along too.   If you need last minute gifts or a host gift, consider a food basket.  I got these ideas from the NY Times.  
These items would help make wonderful nibbles.

1  Pressed Caviar
2 Pumpkin and Squash Oil
3 Walnut Dijon Mustard
4  Moroccan tea glasses (because I REALLY want some for me!)
5  Chocolate-Covered Wine Grapes
all items except glasses can be found by clicking here

Monday, December 20, 2010

Party Desserts

Our big party was Sunday evening.  Instead of plate after plate of cookies, I decided to serve mini-sized French Silk Tarts and shot class sized Cheesecake.

You could use a cookie crumb or graham cracker crust for the tartlets but I chose to make a buttery rich tartlet shell such as this

I used this recipe for the French Silk filling.

The mini cheesecakes were baked in small glasses from Ikea.  I made this cheesecake recipe and then piped the batter into the glasses.  I put about 1 1/2 inches of water in a large roasting pan and then placed the cheesecake batter-filled glasses in the pan and baked the mini 
cheesecakes for about 12 minutes.  In half the batter I added mini chocolate chips.  A raspberry tops it off.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Etsy Gifts

 Searching for a Secret Santa gift or Stocking Stuffers?   
Here are some Etsy ideas.
Love these dotted and striped mugs. $22 each InAGlaze

Key fobs $5.75 can be personalized for additional $2.25 personalizeditems
How about a little desktop art? Just $20 coolranchstudio free shipping too!

Desktop calendar $13 from PoshGirlBoutique
Soy Travel Candles, you pick the scent $4.50/4oz candle dreamypleasures

Happy Weekend

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Consider Your Guest Room

There is a good chance that you may host a guest in your home over the holidays.  Now is the time to look at that space with the eyes of a guest to see if it is welcoming and will meet your guests needs.  Not every home has the luxury of a designated guest room.  Still, consider the space you will set aside for the use of a guest to make it as comfortable and private as possible.

Most important for your guest is the bed and bedding.  Offer a choice of pillows and high quality sheets.  For high quality and low price try shopping for these items at Marshalls or TJ Maxx.  If your guest must sleep on a pullout or inflatable bed, provide a featherbed for additional comfort.  

Provide an extra blanket and throw to keep your guest cozy and warm.  In summer, have a fan in the room to keep guests cool.
Be sure to clear space in closets and dresser for guests to unpack and store clothes.  Supply a variety of hangers for coats, pants, skirts and shirts.

Be thoughtful and furnish toiletries. Include basic such as toothpaste and towels as well as haircare items and body wash and lotion.  

A fluffy robe is a pleasant addition to a guest room, eliminating the need for a guest to pack their own and take up valuable space in the suitcase.
A clock is a necessity and one that allows guest to play their music is a pleasure.

Some bedside niceties would be a water carafe, chocolates, reading material, a candle and a few simple flowers in a vase.  A local paper, guide book or map would be helpful for guests as well.  

I've found it helpful to spend a night in my guest room to see if it was comfortable and supplied all the necessary accoutrements to make a guest feel at home.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's Your Story?

Do you have a book lover on your Christmas list?  

How about a T shirt with a book cover image?  
Out of Print is a company that "celebrates the world's great stories through fashion".  T shirts feature some of the classics and great book cover images.  Often the images are of out of print book covers.  AND for each T shirt sold, Out of Print donates a book to a community in need through their partner, Books for Africa.  Shirts are $28

T shirts come in women's sizes and book title selections as well.
There are some kid sizes and selections too.

What could be better than a T shirt with a matching book?  Maybe a book with a matching T shirt!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Party Photos and Tips

Holidays are the perfect time to get together with friends and family to celebrate and make merry.  These gatherings can be extravagant or low key.  No matter, everyone loves an invitation, a chance to dress up and socialize.

Last week I had a neighborhood party and this week I am getting ready for another party of friends and work colleagues.  We always give a party the Sunday before Christmas.  This is our 18th annual soiree.  Here are some things I've learned over the years.
Pottery Barn drink dispenser $79  Light Cubes from FlashingBlinkyLights
Offer a signature drink, eliminating the need for  full bar offerings.  Provide beer, wine, non-alcohol beverages as well. 
8 cups vodka
5 cups cranberry juice
1 1/4 cups lime juice 
7 tablespoons super fine sugar
serves 20

Roasted potatoes topped with sour cream and bacon, cheddar or green onion
A bed of coarse salt stabilizes wobbly appetizers

Everyone loves deviled eggs.  I just started offering deviled eggs at parties lately, I always thought they were too "pedestrian", but they are gobbled up.  Eggs are very versatile.  Incorporate flavor variations in the yolk mixture or the toppings.  

Sliced pork or beef tenderloin open faced sandwiches are easy for guests to pick up and eat with one hand.  For a fun topping, whip cream and add a flavoring such as chipotle chilies in adobo for the pork or horseradish for beef.

  • Don't worry about cleaning the house.  Just make sure clutter is gone, serving surfaces are gleaming and the powder room is guest ready.  Then just dim the lights and light lots of candles.  The time to wash floors is after the party.
  • Buy red paper cocktail napkins in bulk.  Red works for almost every holiday and event.  You'll be sure to always have them on hand.
  • If you entertain frequently, invest in glassware by the case.  Shop restaurant supply and Ikea.  
  • Likewise, small glass plates 
  • Keep appetizers bite size and eat from hand so no forks are necessary.
  • Create a musical playlist to have ready as soon as the doorbell rings.
  • Plan what you will wear ahead of time so you don't waste precious last minutes trying on everything in your closet...and be dressed and ready an hour before the party starts so you can have a drink and calm down
  • Remove chairs from dining room so people can circulate and mingle.
  • Provide a place for coats, either on a bed or a portable coat rack.
  • Don't take yourself too seriously.  Have fun with table decor and menu
  • The party is over when you run out of ice

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Toast: Two Gift Ideas

    1. noun
         sliced bread browned on both sides by exposure to radiant heat        

    I LOVE this toaster.  I have it in orange.  
    1 Zingerman's Mail Order Bread Fest $40  2 Sarabeth's Gift Sampler $26  3 Starbuck's Christmas Blend $12.95/lb  4.Tea Tower $30 uncommon goods  5 Blomus Teastick $20.15

    Some great bread for toasting, topped with fruity jam and accompanied by a great cup of coffee or tea.  

    2 mugs $40. Etsy marywibis

    How about some hot cocoa in these fanstastic mugs?

    2. noun
        a call to a gathering of people to raise their glasses and drink together in     honor of a person or thing    

    Roost Dainty Champagne Flutes $48

    Toast everything, anything or nothing with these appropriately named dainty flutes. 

    Addison Party Bucket Pottery Barn $79

    Chill the champagne.

    Make an appropriate toast with some help from this book.

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Wrapping Up for the Weekend

    I'm off to New Jersey to celebrate a graduation and other family events.  I'm taking Christmas presents with me which I'll wrap once I arrive.  I'm keeping it simple.  I used rubber star stamps and metallic ink on white "lunch" bags.  I rolled down the tops and punched two holes side by side.  A ribbon through the holes, tied in a bow secures the package.  I made gift tags from key tags using a silver metallic pen for adding names. 
    The jar is filled with Almond Buttercrunch featured on Spiral Style last December.  You can view the recipe by clicking here.
    Enjoy your weekend.  See you on Monday.

    Guest Post from Barely Vogue: Holiday Accessories

    I am very excited to introduce you to my blogging friend, Sahitya.  She is the author of Barely Vogue , her blog, where she dishes about her passions of fashion, shopping and styling.  Sahitya was kind enough to a post of Holiday Accessories.  Thanks Sahitya!

    I am please to be here to do a guest post for Spiral Style.  Thanks to Deb for giving me this opportunity.

    Holiday Season not only calls for gift buying but lets everyone splurge for all the upcoming parties.  Over the years I have spent so much money on impromptu purchases  like an array of cocktail dresses which are now just collecting dust in my closet.  This being the case, now I make it a point to spend less on the entire new collection and I try to play around with what I have by jazzing up the look with fun accessories by investing in some great accent pieces.  This not only saves a lot of money but makes your old dress look entirely new.  Here are the few additions to my closet I will be welcoming his season.  If you haven't before, stop by my blog Barely Vogue to say hello.  Happy Holidays!

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Capote Christmas Stories

    If you are looking for a charming holiday story with substance, consider A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. 
     A Christmas Memory is the classic memoir of Truman Capote's childhood in rural Alabama. Until he was ten years old, Capote lived with distant relatives. This book is an autobiographical story of those years and his frank and fond memories of one of his cousins, Miss Sook. (an Amazon review)  This is a powerful book, one you'll want to reread every year.  It has become a classic and was made into a movie and adapted for stage.  
    A Christmas Memory  $12.21

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    It's Time

    Time pieces seem to be a very popular Christmas gift.  I usually depend on the clock in my car or my cell phone or computer to keep me (relatively) punctual.  Here are some interesting chronographs I found.
    The Unfinished Clock $46
    It's a clock, it's a hook! En Suspend Clock $74
    Powered by WATER!

    Will Return Clock $13.98
    It really is a clock, not a sign.

    Not only does this clock/radio have a bamboo cover, it has battery backup in case of power outage. Plus, you can connect your ipod or MP3 to take advantage its amplifier. $150.
    A mighty impressive looking watch for $19.95! Nordstrom

    You can really stay on top of things in 6 times zones with these watches! Icelink


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