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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pop Champagne!

With New Year's Eve being one day away, I'm sure most of you will be planning on "Popping Champagne" (or sparkling cider for my non-alcoholic drinkers) at midnight. If you plan on entertaining guests inside of your home this New Year's Eve, here are a few "Champagne" inspired drinks featured on Hostess With the Mostess' blog. These yummy drinks are sure to be a big hit at any New Year's Eve bash:
6 medium-size white peaches, halved, pitted, each half cut into 4 wedges
2 pints peach ice cream
3/4 cup crème de cassis (black-currant liqueur) plus additional for drizzling
2 cups chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine

Place 3 peach wedges in bottom of each of 6 tall glasses. Top with 1 scoop ice cream, then another 3 peach wedges. Add second scoop ice cream and top with 2 more peach wedges. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons crème de cassis. Pour 1/3 cup Champagne into each glass. Top with 1 scoop ice cream, drizzle with additional crème de cassis, and serve.



1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup water
1 cup small strawberries, hulled (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup fresh pink or ruby grapefruit juice
2 1/4 cups chilled brut Champagne

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
9 teaspoons mascarpone cheese*
18 whole small strawberries

Stir 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in large saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Cool. Puree 1 cup strawberries in processor. Whisk 1/2 cup puree into sugar syrup. Mix in grapefruit juice, then Champagne. Pour mixture into 8-inch square metal baking pan. Freeze mixture until firm, stirring every 2 hours, about 6 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep frozen.)

Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar and lemon peel in pie plate. Spread 1/2 teaspoon mascarpone around pointed tip half of each whole strawberry. Dip in lemon sugar to coat mascarpone.

Moisten rims of 6 Martini glasses with water; dip rims into remaining lemon sugar. Scrape fork across surface of granita to form ice shavings. Mound granita in glasses. Garnish with sugared berries and serve immediately.

*Available at Italian markets and some supermarkets.


4 scoops lemon sorbet
2 ounces chilled vodka, citrus vodka or limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur)
2 ounces prosecco or other sparkling wine or Champagne
2 sprigs fresh mint

Blend lemon sorbet on low speed and pour in vodka or lemon liqueur in a slow stream. Add prosecco or Champagne. Pour cocktails into a chilled martini glass and serve, garnished with a sprig of mint.


1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2 cups cold white grape juice, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups champagne or club soda
8 fresh strawberries, hulled

In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup cold grape juice; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in sugar. Remove from the heat; stir in remaining grape juice. Cool to room temperature.
Transfer gelatin mixture to a large bowl. Slowly stir in champagne or soda. Pour half of the mixture into eight champagne or parfait glasses. Add one strawberry to each glass. Chill glasses and remaining gelatin mixture until almost set, about 1 hour.
Place the reserved gelatin mixture in a blender; cover and process until foamy. Pour into glasses. Chill for 3 hours or until set. Yield: 8 servings.

Enjoy! And please remember to drink responsibly this New Year's. If you are hosting a New Year's Eve party and serving alcohol to your guests, please make sure that they are able to drive themselves home before leaving. It is also a good idea to provide a transportation service that will drive your guests home should they get too inebriated.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ornament Decor

Christmas ornaments make very attractive and festive centerpieces during the holidays. These pictures prove that Christmas ornaments don't only belong on a tree:

Simply placing ball ornaments in a glass dish or vase adds a bit of pizazz to any table.

In the picture above, ornaments are used to line the center of a table...kind of like a "table runner".

*Note: above images are taken from Apartment Therapy

Our favorite "Hostess With the Mostess" used "Retro" inspired ornaments (which I believe are the same ones from my previous post) to decorate a holiday table.

*image taken from Grace Amore

The picture shown above is an example of how various ornaments placed in a hurricane vase can make a great centerpiece.

This picture was taken by Erin Hession Photography and was used as a cenerpiece in a winter themed wedding. How beautiful is that?

So, as you can see, there are tons of ways you can dress up a holiday table with the simple use of Christmas ornaments. This is a quick and easy way to decorate at the last minute. You can use clear vases and serving bowls that you already have at home. You can also use Christmas ornaments that you may already have stashed in your garage. Ornament decor doesn't only have to be limited to just the holidays. You can use ornaments all year round to decorate the inside of your house or apartment.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Spread Some "Cheer"

At my job, we are taking a different approach to the "Secret Santa" method of gift exchanging that most companies take part in during the Christmas holiday. With the recession in mind (and the fact that our company will not be giving out raises this year), we are doing what's called a "Secret Cheerer". The purpose of a Secret Cheerer is to bring some Christmas "cheer" to a fellow co-worker's day or morning by showering them with small gifts no more than a couple of dollars. The holidays are a time when a lot of people become lonely and depressed for various reasons. Last week, names were secretly drawn and for the two weeks leading up until Christmas, all of the "Secret Cheerers" will be secretly placing gifts on the desk of the person whose name they pulled. Or, they can choose to send their gift via another person to prevent their identity from being revealed. Gifts can be given on a daily basis, a few times a week, or the "Secret Cheerer" can wait until the end of the two weeks and give one big gift.

Gifts can be anything from candy, a doughnut,bagel, cup of coffee, a Christmas card, a holiday poem, candle, $1 to get something out of the vending machine, lunch money, flowers, plant, etc, etc. The ideas are endless. All of the "Secret Cheerers" will be able to reveal themselves at our Christmas Party on December 23rd. Secret Cheering is an unique way to still have fun and be able to exchange gifts while on a budget. I'm not participating in it because I was absent when names were pulled (I fell ill and had to call out sick last Thursday and Friday). But, had I not been sick, I would've definitely participated. It's fun to try and come up with original "cost-effective" gift ideas that will bring a smile to someone's face. Sometimes it's the little things that count...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stepping Out of the Box for Christmas

Traditional Christmas colors like Red and Green have been the color scheme of choice by many when it comes to decorating for the holidays. Red hollies, green mistletoe, candy canes, green christmas trees, etc, etc, all seem to be the norm. In addition, santa clauses, reindeer, gingerbread men, snow flakes, etc are all symbolizations of Christmas. Most people tend to incorporate these themes when it comes to decorating or trimming their Christmas trees.

For the past couple of years or so, I've noticed that the traditional theme of Christmas is being replaced by more comtemporary themes. Now, when you walk into department stores or look in home decorating catalogs, you are seeing things as non-traditional as pink christmas trees, and ornament collections that you wouldn't normally associate with Christmas.

When I go to Target around this time of year, I am always inspired by their Christmas decorating section. Each year they introduce new color schemes in their holiday decorating section and I am always tempted to do away with my old color scheme and adopt one of their new ones.

I really like this tree:

This tree has a "Retro" vibe to it.

If you take a closer look, you can see glitter word ornaments that spell out "Naughty" "Nice" "Dream" along with retro colored candy canes and other retro colored ornaments.

Here are some other ornaments that would go with the retro theme of this tree:

Target also had some other unique Christmas color schemes:

And for my "Divas" and true "Fashionistas" out there, this ornament collection is for you:

This "Girly" collection can be found at Soho Decor

...And this is an idea of what they will look like on a tree:

So, as you can see, there is more to Christmas than the usual Reds and Greens. It is now safe to step out of the box and try something different. So, if you are holding on to those same "traditional" ornaments that have been recycled and reused over the past years, throw them out take a more contemporary and modern approach on your holiday decorating this year.

Monday, November 10, 2008


The holidays are quickly approaching. Can you believe Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks?! For those of you hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house this year, I have a few tabletop decorating ideas to share with you.

Better Homes and Gardens introduces several festive fall table settings including this one using a "nature" inspired theme:

Neutral colored candles, autumn leaves and berry sprigs, along with other natural touches work well for a Thanksgiving tabletop setting.

Footed glass bowls make for great centerpieces. Fill them with fruit, like apples or berries. Mini pumpkins can also be used:

Candles and Fruit can be paired together to make an attractive centerpiece:

Fill glass jars with flowers and berries to make stunning tabletop centerpieces:

This pumpkin candle centerpiece is simple and easy to make:

Get creative by wrapping fresh green vegetables around candles and secure with pretty, satin ribbon:

Take fresh greens like asparagus, green beans, artichoke hearts and wrap around the candle, securing it with a rubberband. Then hide the rubberband by tying the ribbon around it. This makes for beautiful centerpiece.

Fill a wire basket with Thanksgiving harvest-themed foods to create the following centerpiece:

That should give you a few ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner table. Hopefully you were just as inspired by these pictures as I was.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it gives you an excuse to "pig out". However, one of the things I hate about Thanksgiving is all the left-over turkey. In my household, we would eat turkey for like the next couple of weeks. Turkey stew, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey, turkey, turkey! It got to the point where I'd never want to see another turkey again. My parents always wanted to prepare turkey again for Christmas and I'd beg them not to.

Here are some delicious recipe ideas for that left-over Thanksgiving turkey. That is, unless you are frying your turkey. In that case, you won't have to worry about any left-overs. LOL, Seriously! Fried turkeys always get eaten down to the bone, literally. If you have never had fried turkey, you are truly missing out. Those of you who have, know exactly what I'm talking about. But, for those of you who are still baking your turkeys, here are some left-over turkey ideas:

Zesty Tortilla Soup:

Corn Chowder:

Turkey Paella Salad:

Cranberry-Turkey Spinach Salad:

Turkey Spinach Toss

Nacho Turkey Casserole

Cran-Turkey Enchiladas

And there you have it! Turkey recipes that are not so boring, and easy to make. So, before you throw out that left-over turkey, try some of these scrumptious recipes. Check back with me after the holiday and let me know if you tried any of these ideas. I'd love to hear all about it. Oh! And I love pictures : )

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wedding Trends

In this post, I will discuss new wedding trends and other special elements that can really make a wedding stand out. Weddings are becoming more and more non-traditional as brides are tending to deviate from what is considered to be the "norm". I am going to share with you some wedding trends I feel can add originality and overall elegance to a wedding.

Wedding Cake

Cupcakes are the new wedding cake. A lot of brides are choosing cupcake tiers in lieu of the traditional wedding cake. This new trend is becoming popular amongst brides who aren't afraid to step out of the box. Cupcake tiers can be displayed in several different ways and can easily coordinate with the color and theme of a wedding.

As you can see, a miniature cake can be added to the top of the tier so that the couple can freeze eat on their one year anniversary. Check out my dear friend, Dr. Yakini's, article she wrote about this growing wedding trend on her online webzine. In the article she points out a few cons of replacing a wedding cake with this whimsical display of sugary confection.

Candy Buffet
Displaying a candy buffet table at your reception is another wedding trend that adds a whimsical effect to the room. Candy buffets are always a huge hit at weddings because it can be used to coordinate with the wedding colors and can double as favors. There are several different ways to display a candy buffet.

Bags can be placed on the candy buffet table for your guests to scoop candy into and take home with them. You can personalize the outside of the bags by adding customized labels. You can find bulk candy from places like Candy Warehouse and the Bulk Candy Store.


While it is not a necessity, giving your guests favors is a nice way of thanking your guests for attending your wedding. Favors can put a nice dent in your budget because you have to provide one for each guest. Therefore, it is a good idea to use elements in your wedding that can serve two purposes. The aforementioned candy buffet serves a dual purpose because it can double as favors for your guests. Place card holders can also double as favors.

These cute little bubble vases have prongs where you can display place cards directing your guests to their assigned tables (that's if you choose to have a seating chart). At the end of the night, they can go home with your guests.

Here is another cute place card holder idea found on The Knot which can double as favors.

A couple on one of my favorite wedding sites, Weddingbee really took an original and charitable approach to wedding favors. Instead of handing out favors guests could take home with them, they gave their guests four charity tokens, worth a dollar each, to donate to three different charities.

Guests were given the option to divide their charity tokens amongst the three charities or they could choose to donate all of their tokens to one cause. There were three glass bowls set out on a table at the reception, each representing one of the different charities. Guests were given instructions to drop their charity tokens in the bowl of their choice. When I first saw this, I thought this was such a neat idea. Couples spend so much money on their wedding, but in this case, part of the money spent was going to be donated to a good cause. For more details and information on how you can also implement this at your wedding, check out former Weddingbee blogger, affectionately known to her readers as "Mrs. Lovebug's" post with step-by-step instructions here

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Photo booths are becoming ever so popular at weddings

Wedding photo booths add a sense of nostalgia to your wedding reception. Your guests will have a ball playing around in the photo booth. Most photo booth rental companies include unlimited photos in their rental packages and some even provide you with a scrapbook where all of your guests photos can be placed and later used as a keepsake for your wedding. You and your husband/wife will have fun looking back at all the silly poses and funny faces of your guests.

There was a caricature artist at a wedding I planned back in May. Each of the guests were able to take turns and get a caricature drawing done of themselves at the reception. This was a huge hit as well. I don't think the caricature artist got a break the entire time. Guests were anxiously lined up awaiting their turn.

Guest Book
Many brides are doing away with the traditional guest book. Photo frame guest books are being used at a lot of weddings

The bride and groom can display a picture of themselves (such as a professional engagement picture) in the middle of the frames and have their guests sign around the outside of the frame. This, too, can double as a memorable keepsake.

Guest book platters are also be used to replace the typical "sign-in" guest books. This can also be taken home and used as a keepsake.

Martini Luges

Martini Ice Luges are ideal for weddings. It is also a cost effective way to serve complimentary alcohol to your guests because you can have a signature martini being poured down the martini luge all night. Guests can just walk up and hold their glass underneath the spout while the bartender pours the liquor down the luge into a martini glass. Some couples choose to have 2 to 3 different martini luges so that guests can have different flavor choices.

Professional Lighting

Hiring a professional lighting specialist can add a romantic ambience to your reception. You can select lighting to match your wedding colors. Professional lighting really creates a "Wow" factor when your guests enter the room.

*Photo taken from Exquisite Weddings
Isn't that lighting gorgeous?

Ceiling Draping

Ceiling draping can add a touch of romantic elegance to your reception room. It can really transform a room. Ceiling draping is also commonly used in wedding tents when utilizing an outdoor space for the reception.

There are so many trendy wedding ideas, that I can't possibly cover them all in one post. Perhaps, I'll come back with some other ideas in a "Part 2" segment. I hope you enjoyed Part 1's segment and saw some ideas and trends that were new to you. Until next time...