Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sparklers 101

It's important to remember that all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.True Champagne blends three grapes―Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red), and Pinot Meunier (red)―from the Champagne region of northern France (about a 1 1⁄2-hour drive northeast of Paris). However, sparkling wine is made all over the world―from the United States to Italy to Spain (and practically everywhere in between). As a general rule, m├ęthode champenoise ("Champagne method") is the phrase you're looking for on the sparkling wine's label. This tells you, among other things, the wine has undergone a second fermentation in the bottle, producing millions of tiny bubbles.

Spain's easy drinking Cava (KAH-vah) is made in the Champagne method and just might be one of the best values around (often found for less than $12). The most notable Italian sparkler, Prosecco (praw-SEHK-koh), is a fun-loving wine with loads of fruitiness, a touch of sweetness, and soft bubbles. It's the base of the Bellini, the famous white peach refresher invented in the 1930s at Harry's Bar in Venice.

How To Serve Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wine should be well chilled―30 minutes in ice water or 3 hours in the refrigerator should do the trick―and served in slender, flute-shaped glasses. Before you can pour it, though, you have to get the bottle open. Despite what you see in the movies, the proper way to open sparkling wine does not involve firing the cork across the room with a loud pop. Rather, in a controlled fashion, let the pressure of the bottle gently release the cork with an ever-so-slight hiss.
• Loosen, but don't remove, the cage, keeping your thumb over the top at all times.
• Hold the bottle at a 45° angle. With your thumb over the cork, slowly twist the bottle (not the cork) in one direction while holding the cork firmly.
• Allow the pressure inside the bottle to gently push out the cork.

Southern Living 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Slushy Red Rooster


For your New Year's Eve Party offer up some Slushy Red Roosters, you can make and freeze ahead of time to prevent you from staying in the kitchen too much. Just get a friend to manage the blender.

Makes 3 qt.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 (12-oz.) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 4 1/2 cups water

Preparation

1. Stir together cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice concentrate, vodka, and 4 1/2 cups water. Place 1 (1-gal.) zip-top plastic freezer bag inside another 1-gal. zip-top plastic freezer bag. Pour about 4 cups cranberry mixture into inside bag. Seal both bags. Repeat procedure with remaining cranberry mixture. (Double bagging is a precaution to avoid spills.) Freeze bags 24 hours. Remove bags from freezer; let stand 5 minutes. Process cranberry mixture, 1 bag at a time, in a blender or food processor until desired consistency. Pour into glasses. Serve immediately.

SPICE UP THE GLASSWARE:

Wrap glasses with short lengths of silk and velvet ribbon, and secure with double-sided foam tape. Use Glue Dots to attach embellishments such as glitter-covered card stock stars or use stick-on jewels.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sparkly Wonder


I have found the most amazing product - perfect for cleaning those engagement rings!
Check out Worley's Wonder Jewelry Cleaner

It brings the sparkle back to your jewelry and even safe for pearls. I would like to call it magic. I came across it in Myrtle Beach years ago, sold on a little stand at Barefoot Landing. I now use it for lots of things.

Like a glass and mirror cleaner - works wonders on your car windshield and even works as an anti fog agent for your bathroom mirror. Clean up your sunglasses and it doesn't leave finger prints. Its also an anti static agent so its great for your computer monitor or for cleaning dust off your ceiling fans.

So get your diamonds sparkling again as you head into the new year - its so easy to clean. Spray the ring (or other jewelry) and use the small brush to get around the prongs and close to the stone - VOILA - its beautiful again!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas - enjoy your family, your traditions and all things special this Holiday season.

Here is what I am so happy about this year - my little munchkin!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reindeer Spritzer

Yum! Reindeer Spritzer

5 cups orange juice
1 cups chilled lemon lime soft drink
1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Garnishes - lemon slices and fresh rosemary sprigs

Stir together all ingredients and serve over Ice. Makes 2 QT

Tipsy version
Stir in 1 1/2 cup vodka to above recipe -

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Move Over Gingerbread Boys!


And Hello Chai Spice Girls! When I was growing up my grandmother worked in a bakery -the old fashioned kind with a store front - I loved watching her decorate wedding cakes but what I remember the most was the holidays when the bakery would have Gingerbread Men and Cherry Chews. (I think they were there year round but I just remember them at Christmas) Well my mom has taken on the task of making the Cherry Chews and I was thinking I would start making Gingerbread Men - until I found these yummies!

Ingredients

  • 2 spiced chai-flavored tea bags
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1 recipe Powdered Sugar Icing

Directions

1. Remove tea bag contents (3 teaspoons); discard bags. In medium bowl combine tea, flour, and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.

2. In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and molasses. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can; stir in remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and refrigerate about 3 hours or until easy to handle.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. On lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until 1/4-inch thickness. Cut dough with 4-inch gingerbread girl cutters.

4. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely. Decorate with Powdered Sugar Icing. Makes 18 to 20 cookies.

5. Powdered Sugar Icing: In medium bowl combine 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 4 teaspoons milk. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until piping consistency.

6. To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper is covered airtight container. Store at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

BHG

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bowl full of Cherries!


Favor Idea with Cherries!!

Don't you just love chocolate covered cherries? I always look forward to them every holiday - they come in that great red box...Well I found them gourmet this year! Cherries Divine

Hand dipped long stemmed cherries - a perfect gift for the holidays; for a friend or business associate. Also great idea for Valentines day, Easter or other special occasions. They come with white, milk or dark chocolate.

I love it as a wedding favor - look how cute the picture of the wedding dress and tux cherries are!
4 2 piece boxes (above) are $26.99.
Or buy them in increments of 15 for $24.95 and make your own packaging.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fab Find

Restaurant.com - Eat, Drink and Save Money

Have you heard of Restaurant.com - I just heard about it on the Today show. They serve as the community matchmaker, introducing great restaurants to great people.

You can search for participating restaurants in your area - then buy coupons to dine there.
For example - I searched my area code, found Bridgets in Ambler - I can purchase a $25 gift certificate for $10 - wow that is a great savings!

Yum!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tips on Tipping!

During the holidays it is always nice to tip the mail man, your hair dresser, the doorman, etc. Holiday Tipping is about Holiday Thanking!

I know this year is tougher then usual but don't forget to do something -any token is appreciated. If you plan to do a monetary tip - do only 10% of service instead of 20%. Maybe make cookies or fudge with a nice note instead.

I plan to make some candy for my mailman - he has been so nice to me this year.

Emily Post has some good etiquette advice about holiday tipping. Check it out. She even lists some recommendations in a table.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Gift Ideas


Looking for some good sales - check out www.smartbargains.com - they have major brand names for less; sometimes 60% less.

I found my best friend the Lenox serving dish - half off. They have a search tool and bargains of the day.

Check it out!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meaningful Gift Ideas

With all the commercialization of Christmas/Hanukkah people tend to forget the true meaning and spirit of the Holiday. Giving a gift is not about making sure you receive one back. Its not about spending the most money.

I love to shop and love to give people things for Christmas, a little something to show them how much they mean to me.

I came across some great meaningful and different gift ideas in Real Simple.

-do you have lots of old tshirts from college or sports - have them made into a quilt. Check out www.uncommongoods.com for a do it yourself or www.campusquilt.com for some help.

-send a reminder of a special vacation together - a pineapple in the dead of winter or a box of saltwater taffy. If you are sending a gift card attach it to a postcard from your favorite spot.

-have your old VHS tapes converted to DVD. There are machines that you can buy from Brookstone for $400 or just send them to www.scandigital.com - only $20 a tape.

Happy Giving!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cookie Exchange

Making cookies seems to be a part of the holiday season, a tradition for a lot of people. My grandmother starts making cookies weeks in advance in anticipation of the family visiting for the holidays.

Well my neighborhood has started a cookie exchange every year. Last year was at my house but this year I had someone else host since I have a newborn. There is always a contest on presentation and cookie making story.

My grandmother helped me make graham cookie bars and I packaged them up in little Martha Stewart favor purses from Michaels. They are actually wedding favors/escort card boxes. I just added glittery stickers and voila it made a great presentation for my cookies.

Here is the VERY easy recipe.
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x11 dish

1 stick of margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups cinnamon graham crackers (about 16)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 pecans

Beat margarine and sugar then beat egg, milk, vanilla until blended, stir in crumbs and other ingredients, press into baking dish.
Bake 25 min or until browned - don't overcook.

Cut into bars and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Extra Ornaments Turned Great Decor

Take your extra ornaments or buy some in colors to match your room and add to a big glass bowl. Try some solid colors, patterns, big and small.

Great inexpensive decorating idea.

Purely Ornamental - pull out the hangers from mercury ball ornaments, place on painted pots or glass bowl.

Add water then add tulips or other flowers.

Voila - instant vase!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hiring Tips-Wedding Planners

I was reading through my blog roll this am- trying to play catch up and came across Liene of Blue Orchid Designs - a wedding colleague of mine. She posted an awesome post today - questions to ask when hiring a wedding planner.

If you are planning a wedding you should know - A wedding planner is the first thing couples should look into when they start to plan their wedding. A Wedding Planner has lots of good and NEW ideas, insights into the industry, great contacts and can help you throughout the planning.

Check out Liene's Blog-
Tips on Hiring a Wedding Planner

and Happy Planning!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Office Reindeer Games

For months you have been planning your wedding, constantly online checking out pictures and getting ideas for your big event, even reading too many blogs!
Well check out this article especially if your boss is looking over your shoulder - good excuse for throwing the Office a party.

Career Overview

There are lots of ideas for games and food-Name the event Reindeer Games and get all the employees involved. This will get your mind off wedding planning and make your boss happy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Holiday


Hello December and Hello to Holiday Spirit.

I hope you enjoy the shopping craziness and spreading joy this season. Stay tuned for decorating tips, recipes and gift ideas.
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