Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holidays - Holiday Letter Header

Holiday Letter Header

I'm in the midst of writing our annual holiday letter right now. I try and design a new cute little header for each one, so I thought I'd share this year's version. To download the original size click here.

I love getting holiday letters in the mail and finding out what people have been up to. My holiday letters tend to be pretty straightforward. As you might have noticed, I am NOT the world's greatest writer. I love to see the different formats people use for their letters, though. One friend always writes it as if he's trying to talk himself out of actually writing the letter. I have an uncle who writes a page and a half and then includes a whole page of pictures.

Does anyone else do a letter this time of year? If so, what do you include?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dress Up - Gray Boots

I want gray tall boots, flat with little to no heel preferably with a buckle or two. There is no ryhme or reason for my sudden and very specific shoe lust. I certainly don't need gray boots, so I am trying to argue myself out of buying a pair. So far, I've come up with a) it's nearly Christmas so I shouldn't be spending money on myself b) I don't really even HAVE the money to spend on myself and c) I wouldn't be able to fit them into my already bursting closet, which means they'd have to go in the husband's closet which he would certainly not appreciate. Oh, well, here are some of the pretty ones that have caught my eye.

image from PiperLime

image from

Friday, November 21, 2008

Recipe - Greek Lemon Soup

Greek Lemon Soup

A quick soup recipe for a chilly Friday. The spinach is optional in this recipe, but it's a nice way to sneak some veggies in to the daily diet. The egg yolks might seem a little odd, but they make this soup very rich and creamy. This soup is great with a sweet bread to accompany it. These proportions serve 2 well, it's easily doubled or tripled.

4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup rice (NOT instant rice)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 egg yolks
3 cups baby spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Heat broth in large pot on stove top to boiling. Add rice, stirring well, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Whisk lemon juice and egg yolks together in a medium sized bowl.

Remove broth from heat and add several ladles of hot soup to the egg and lemon mixture. (This is called tempering, basically bringing up the the temperature of the eggs up a little so they won't scramble when you add them to the soup.) Add egg, lemon, and broth mixture to soup, whisking constantly.

Place back on heat and add spinach, stirring until spinach softens and cooks down.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Home Style - Quilted Table Runner from Purl Bee

The lovely ladies at the Purl Bee have generously put up a VERY detailed tutorial for making a quilted table runner. I love the color combination they chose, and the coordinated napkins are adorable.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday World Travel - The Bellagio at Thanksgiving

image from Flickr member Cynnerz

I spoke with a friend last week who told me he just wanted to hide until the holidays are over. It reminded me that not every family relishes every moment of the holiday season like mine does. So I started thinking of a cool location to spend Thanksgiving if you wanted to be in hiding like my friend. Las Vegas sprang immediately to mine. Luckily, the Bellagio puts on quite a spread for the holiday. Check out the awesome fall-themed decorations below and their website to see the MANY restaurants to feast at. Who would miss aunt edith's special 3 onion stuffing in the midst of Vegas??

Above 4 images from Flickr member jimg994

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parties - The Bar Cart

I love the idea of having a bar station out during a party so guests can help themselves. It's sets a retro laid-back vibe for a party. No need to put out anything too fancy, just enough for a couple of classic cocktails that guests can make just to their liking. We had one out at our last party, and it just had the staples on it - gin, vodka, bourbon, tequila, orange and tomato juice, cola, ginger ale, tonic water, lemons and limes. And ice. Lots and lots of ice. A whole party on a cart. Domino has a great slide show up right now with some nicely styled carts to get those ideas flowing.

All images from Domino

Monday, November 17, 2008

Parties - Holiday Cocktails (from Sam's Club, of all places!)

Say what you will about the super LARGE company Sam's Club is associated with, I don't really like them either, but their most recent catalog/publication had me drooling all over the pages. The styling is gorgeous and showcases great ideas for their products. They have a whole spread with different ideas for rotisserie chicken. It also has cool and totally do-able entertaining tips, like these fun holiday cocktail recipes. You can view the entire catalog page by page online here. Here are a few of the jewel hued cocktails to salivate over.

Cinnamon Stacker

For another yummy recipe with Bailey's and Kahlua, check out the Golden Flake's recipe for Baby Guinness.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holidays - Gorgeous Turkeys

Go to Epicurious right now to feast your eyes on some of the most delicious looking turkeys ever. As a bonus, the slide show links directly to the recipes!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Holidays - Cute Ideas from Rock Scissor Paper

Rock Scissors Paper has some cute holiday entertaining ideas (and coordinating invites). It's never too early to start thinking about some holiday fun. Their ideas are pretty simple, but fun. The descriptions are taken from their website.
"Have a fun group of friends who enjoy a good cocktail? This is a fun, interactive party to have for a close knit group.The idea for this get together is to have everyone come to the party prepared to make a special cocktail at their turn at the bar. Watch out! People really get into the competive nature of this activity! Everyone will have fun sampling the delicious drinks!"
This is the PERFECT party idea for my close group of local friends. The ladies at RSP suggest using mini glasses to sample the drinks so no one gets too much holiday cheer. I'd work in some secret voting and a prize for best mix-master.

"This is our family's Christmas Eve tradition. You really can't believe what wacky and wonderful gifts you can find for 99 cents! We have each person bring a wrapped gift to dinner. As we are serving dessert we start the fun! All the gifts go into a pile in the middle of the table. We take turns picking a gift and opening it. You have one chance during the game to steal another person's gift."
Given all the bleak news about the economy, this would be a cost effective but fun party. I'm thinking about trying it out around the Christmas dinner table with my family this year. This idea is also perfect for a young family looking to start some new traditions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Home Style - Restful bedrooms from Flickr

Even though it's been a busy week, I will (happily!) have a houseful of family this weekend, so no sleeping in for me any time soon. That won't stop me from wistfully viewing these restful bedrooms posted at Flickr, though.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dress Up - Party Perfect Tops

image from Forever 21

'Tis nearly the season of the holiday party. Here's a selection of pretty tops that are VERY affordable and would be perfect paired with any number of slacks or skirts.

image from Forever 21

image from Forever 21

image from Go Jane

image from Old Navy

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's election day, so go vote! Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a country where men in banana costumes are free to celebrate with dance, so let's honor that freedom by exercising our right to vote today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Recipe - Escarole and Bean Soup

White Bean and Escarole Soup

It's finally been cool enough for soup weather. I'm a big fan of soups that come together quickly so I can throw them into a pot after work on chilly days. This one fits nicely into that category. It's also a great introduction to escarole if you've never cooked with it before. It's quickly wilted with some olive oil, then simmered in broth, which tames it's crunchy bitterness. Makes 2 large portions, or 4 small portions. Serve with some crusty bread.

1 medium head escarole
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 15 ounce can small white beans (navy or cannellini)
salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan

Roughly chop escarole into 1 inch pieces. Rinse well and dry in a salad spinner. Heat olive oil in a stock pot. Add escarole and stir until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, vinegar, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add beans and heat through, about 5 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with Parmesan.