Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year in Review

Remember all of this? 
 Great Google video.  Check it out.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

To all of those Spiral Style readers celebrating, I wish you a Merriest of Christmases filled with meaning, love and joy. 

Enjoy the holiday time with your loved ones.  I'll be spending some time with family in New Jersey.  See you before the New Year.
Love and blessings.  XXOO

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Early Gift

Hubby surprised me early this Christmas with a new computer.

I've got to take my old computer to the Apple store today so that they can transfer all of my "business" from the old computer to the new.  I may not have a computer for a few days so I'm taking this opportunity to take some time off to get ready for the holidays.  I'm sure you are all busy and reading blogs is about last on your "to do" list.  I'll be back in a few days.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Real or Fake

The artificial trees available are so realistic that it is difficult to know if the tree is real or "fake".  The lack of pine scent and the perfection of fake trees are the clues to the imitations of season's icon.  

Our family has made it a tradition to cut down a tree from a local tree farm.  Stomping through the snow with dogs in tow looking for just the right tree is a ritual that heralds the holiday season.  
Certainly not a huge tree nor a perfect tree, but just having our tree in the loft grants it grandeur as it looms above.  This year's tree is adorned with only the glow of white lights, a pure and simple look.
If you don't have a fresh tree and would like the awesome fragrance of pine, try a Nest Candle in the Holiday scent. 
So do you go real or fake?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Weekend

I hope you have some delicious plans for the weekend.  If your agenda includes a party and you need an hors d'oeuvres idea, here is an easy one that everyone loves.

This simple recipe is just a few easy ingredients combined in a delicious spread for crackers or bread.  I enhanced the smoked flavor of the turkey with about 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke.  Hubby suggested the addition of chopped dried cranberries for color and texture.  

1 8 oz package cream cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup (about 6 oz) coarsely chopped, smoked, fully cooked turkey
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Combine cheese and mayonnaise (and Liquid Smoke if using) in a food processor and blend.  Add chopped turkey and process until a paste forms.  Remove to a bowl and add chopped pecans and parsley.  
Serve with crackers and/or bread.  
Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Cookie Baking

The thing about Christmas Cookies is that they have to look good as well as taste good.

I just made this new recipe and the cookies totally fall apart when you take a bite.  Not much flavor either.  :(
Simple, delicious chocolate chip cookies just don't cut it.  The cookies have to be shaped, colored, rolled in something, sandwiched, sprinkled or frosted. I stopped baking and decorating cut-out cookies as well as those cute little gingerbread people several years ago.   Seems like I was the only one eating them anyway and that was because I spent so much time baking, I didn't want to throw them away.  
How about you?  Do you make lots of fancy cookies? 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gifts for Imbibers

A few ideas for those that like a nip now and then.

Whisky Stones $19.95 Sur la Table
Have your whisky "on the rocks" literally.  Chill the stones to chill the whisky.  

Corkcicle $22.95
Chill your wine to the perfect temperature without an ice bucket.  Chill INSIDE the bottle with the Corkcicle.  Use again and again.  Just refreeze.

Wine and Champagne Glass Candles $13.99 - $19.99 each

Wine Cork Serving Tray $39.95 Wine Enthusiast
This kit allows you to create your own pattern for this DIY tray. 

Wine bottle wall sconce $96 Ebay

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I have two favorite desserts from my holiday party to share with you.

Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce

I saw this recipe in the September issue of Bon Appetit and knew I had to make it for my party.  This is a layered pudding.  Chocolate cookie crumbs are placed in the bottom of the glass.  The next layer is butterscotch pudding enhanced with a bit of rum.  The next layer is a seriously rich and delicious salted caramel sauce.  (This sauce could be my new favorite ice cream topping!)  A dab of whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed crumbs top the fabulous dessert.  You can view the recipe by clicking here.  
I have 2 oz glasses and dessert spoons from Ikea that serve mini portions so guests may try several dessert treats and not feel too full.   

Cranberry Spice Cake
This recipe was in the November 2011 issue of Bon Appetit.  Shown as an 8 inch round cake I was sure this would work as mini portions.  I purchased several petite muffin pans (smaller than mini muffin pans) from Sur la Table which worked perfectly for small portion cakes.  The tiny cakes baked in 12 minutes.  The fresh cranberries in the batter along with the orange and lemon zest, cinnamon and cardamom made for a spicy, flavorful, moist cake.  I topped the cakes with an icing made of  powdered sugar, orange zest and cream.  Click here to see the cake recipe.  This cake would be excellent for breakfast or as dessert with ice cream or whipped cream on the side.  

My new favorite holiday embellishment is this Silver Shimmer Sugar.  The little grains are dazzling and catch the light like tiny diamonds. 

What is your favorite holiday treat?  Please share.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Color Inspiration

Happy Monday everyone.  
I'm recovering from my holiday party last night and Angela from 365 small details is kindly guest posting today with some holiday inspiration.  I love her sense of color and design.  Thanks Angela!!

Happy Holidays!! When Deborah told me how much she was loving a deep wine color I was immediately thinking how it would be a great color to use for wrapping gifts this holiday season. I am not sure about you all but that is my all time favorite thing to do. I usually try and find alternative color combinations every year and this year I think wine, cream, navy and the lightest shade of green would make any package look extra special. 

Do you all have a special way to wrap up goodies for your favorite people? 


Friday, December 9, 2011

Gifts for Coffee and Tea Lovers

Some people (including me) need that cup of coffee, tea, latte or espresso to get the day started or just sit and sip and relax.  Here are some ideas for gifts.

My Collection espresso cups by Jansen + Company; $60 for set of six 
Love these colorful, modern looking cups.

Arta Tea Leaf Infuser. $12.99 Amazon

Hello Darkness My Old Friend - Coffee Art Print $20 Etsy

Maple Bacon Flavored Coffee  $10.95 CoffeeAM

Joey Roth Sorapot, Tea Pot - Brushed Finish $191.26 Amazon

Coffee - Gourmet Flavored Infused Organic Sugar Cubes $3.50 Etsy

Tea inspired Spa Gift Set $19.95 Barnes and Noble
From Harney & Sons Fine Tea, a tea box filled with tea sachets, honey lip balm, bath soap and salts.  Have a cuppa in the tub!

Solid Shampoo Bar with Coffee $6 Etsy

Green Cup Cozy $19.95 Etsy

Print Tea Cup art $19 Etsy

Soy Candle Espresso Shot $28 Etsy

Happy Shopping.  Happy Weekend.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pate: Easy as Meatloaf

I'm busy in the kitchen getting ready for our annual holiday party.  Today I made hubby's favorite, pate.  If you've never made a pate, let me tell you it is as easy as meatloaf!  
Pate can be made up to a week in advance and will serve a crowd. 

 It is a rather decadent food, involving a lot of fat...tasty fat...pork/bacon fat.  If you can't get over that, you can stop reading right now.  A loaf pan is lined in plastic wrap and then with bacon.  This is the traditional way to make a pate.  

The pate ingredients are combined and then transfered and pressed evenly into the pan.  This recipe is pork, prune and green peppercorn.  The prunes are soaked in brandy for a very rich flavor.  The bacon is folded over the top of the pan as is the plastic wrap.

The loaf pan is tightly covered with foil and placed in a roasting pan with boiling water added to the roaster as a water bath.  The roasting pan is covered with foil and placed in a 350 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer registers 150 when inserted into the center of the pate.  Add weight, such as heavy cans to the top of the loaf pan to help compress the pate.  Chill overnight before removing from the loaf pan.  Lift out the pate with the plastic wrap.  You can view this recipe from Bon Appetit by clicking here.

PHOTOGRAPH BY Lendon Flanagan (no relation)  From Bon Appetit

The traditional way to serve pate is with slices of bread, grainy mustard, chutneys and cornicons.  Olives on the side are lovely too as well as a kir royale or hearty red wine.  Oh, I'm getting hungry.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trees Under Glass

I'm a little under the weather today so I'll be brief.  

I like the idea of little trees under glass.  This photo is from Martha Stewart's website.

How simple are these trees in a Mason jar from Anthropologie?  They vary in size and price from $25.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Culinary Gifts

What to buy the gourmet that seems to have everything.  How about something from this list?

Acrylic Flatware  from $4 per piece or by sets Gracious Home
Colorful flatware for tea and coffee service or dessert.  Dishwasher safe.  

The Mobile Foodie Survival Kit $26
13 organic herbs and spices along with wasabi powder are contained in this 9 inch long tube. Essentials include cayenne, cinnamon, thyme, basil, oregano, and dill plus 7 more.  This would be perfect for that vacation rental, camping, or the gourmet traveler. 

Citron Basil Candle $28
Culinary blend of Citrus, basil, rosemary and some green hyacinth.  100% natural wax and 65 hour burn time.  
Rosemary Topiary 18 inch cone
It looks great, it smells, divine, and you can cook with it.  A rosemary topiary in any shape is a great living gift.  Pick one up at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or your local grocery store.  The cone shape looks like a Christmas tree!

Staub Mini Round Cocotte Set of 3 $99.95
How sweet are these mini Dutch ovens?  They would be perfect for individual servings of mac n' cheese, pot pie or fruit crisps. Available in 5 colors.

Olivewood cooking utensils  Sur La Table priced from $5.95

Latte Bowls  Set of 6 Anthropologie $30
Love the colors of these bowls.  They make me happy every time I open the cupboard to reach for a bowl.  Oatmeal tastes better in one of these...really!!

Or how about a cookbook?  Check out the NY Times best of 2011 by clicking here.

These are the Epicurious favorites of 2011.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Under $40 Gift Ideas

Happy Monday!  I had a wonderful weekend in Washington DC with my family.  I hope you had a splendid weekend.  Today I'm sharing some under $40 gift ideas from C. Wonder, the east coast stores and website.  Luxury items at value pricing, C. Wonder has an enticing array of "beautiful, versatile and spirited products" with "fresh twist" for gift giving pleasures.
This cheese board would make an excellent host/hostess gift or a gift for anyone who likes to entertain.  The monogram makes is more personal.
Or if you don't like zebras, how about a monkey or a poodle?  These plates with a bowl-like center will brighten up a spot on the nightstand, dresser, bathroom counter or entry way.  A great place to deposit keys or loose change and a fun gift for a guy.
No need to sacrifice warmth for texting.  These soft gloves are made of a wool-angora blend, and feature pointer fingers and thumbs made of special conductive thread so touch-screen smartphones and ipads can be used while the gloves are worn.  Six colors and 2 sizes to choose from.
Ikat Coffee Mug $8   Ikat Cereal Bowl $8
Make breakfast more appealing with these gold rimmed, Ikat design mugs and bowls available in four colors.  Dinner plates and salad plates also available.  
An eye catching gold plated snake with gemstone eyes curls around a black resin bracelet.  Also available in orange.  

Every desk or dresser could use a decorative box to hold reading glasses, stamps, cuff links, receipts.  These handsome boxes are available in three sizes and three colors.
At $34, this 26X26 inch pillow is a bargain.  Available in two colors.

You can explore the other under $40 gift suggestions at C.Wonder by clicking here.


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