Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Gift....

....for Me!

If you are looking for the perfect Christmas gift for me, I know just the thing.  You see, I've been doing this blog for awhile now, and having a good time at it, but I would love to know if anyone ever reads it (other than my loyal readers ~ my daughter, mom, sister and niece!).  So if you are a regular, or even just a sometime reader, please leave a comment.  It's not hard to do, just click on the "comments" link below. And, if by chance, you have tried something I've written about, I would love to know about it!  Just when you thought your Christmas shopping was done, I'm adding one more thing to your list.  But the good news is the price is right and the shipping and handling is free!
Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sweatshirt Ease...Jacket Polish

This French Terry Jacket with Ruffle Trim from the Nine West Vintage America Collection offers the best of both worlds...sweatshirt ease, but jacket polish.  The soft fabric (in black or charcoal gray) is 95% cotton, 5% spandex.  The jacket has a gathered back with ribbing "belt" and the sleeve is trimmed with a bit of canvas and a metallic button for a bit of extra detail.  I think this will be a great addition to my wardrobe as you can dress it up or down, and stretch it through several seasons.  I found it at Macy's - regular price was $69 but I had a coupon, of course!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Perfect Swiss Design

It doesn't look like much, but this Zyliss Silicone Stir Fry Spatula is tops in design and function.  A tapered edge on the spatula gets under foods quickly and easily.  The angled silicone head and rigid silicone core make this spatula perfect for vegetables, omelets, sauces and more.  The high grade silicone is heat resistant to 600 degrees F.  The bright red color (or orange or lime green) makes it easy to find in the drawer and basically it just feels good in your hand.  It's about $8 at specialty kitchen stores or on-line.  Trust me, you will reach for this over and over again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ina Garten = Barefoot Contessa

The Barefoot Contessa cookbooks are far and above my favorite cookbooks.  Beautiful pictures, delicious recipes, simple directions.  The recipes turn out consistently good.  Ina uses minimal basic ingredients in her recipes, with an emphasis on fresh, quality ingredients.  I have discovered at least one recipe in each book that I felt justified the cost of the book.  Some of our favorites are the Carmelized Butternut Squash, Tequila Lime Chicken and the Sun-Dried Tomato Dip.  Pictured above are the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and the latest release, Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?  Mmmmmm......

Monday, November 29, 2010

Soft Skin ~ Soft Scent

It's like magic!  Add a capful or two of Boots Bath Oil in Rose and Lavender added to your bath, soak for a few minutes, and you will have the softest and sweetest-smelling skin.  Don't be scared away by this if you are not a big floral fan, the rose and lavender scent is light and refreshing.  As an added bonus, it comes in such a pretty bottle!  Target carries the Boots line of products.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rosle, Rosle

If the cutting board and chef's knife is already out, it's usually just quicker and easier to mince a clove of garlic with the knife.  But other times, like tonight when the recipe called for 9 cloves of minced garlic, I turn to this gadget.  It's a Rosle Garlic Press from Williams Sonoma.  And let me tell you, this little guy can really press the garlic.  The first time I used it, after struggling with an inferior brand for several years, I applied the usual amount of pressure and Woohoo! , the garlic went flying out and splattered all across the back splash.  I soon learned that you don't need a lot of pressure to use this style.  Just aim carefully and give it a gentle squeeze.  When you're done, you can flip the screen up for easy cleaning or toss it in the dish washer.  Yes, it's a bit more expensive than some brands, but it is quite possibly the last garlic press you will ever buy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Fun Surprise!

A surprise package was waiting for me on the steps last week - the Pearl and Chain Necklace Tee from Ann Taylor Loft!  It was an early birthday present from my thoughtful daughter, who seems to think I need to add a little more bling to my wardrobe.  I paired this with a black ruffled cardigan for a birthday dinner at the Bistro.  So cute, and so fun!  Thank you, Heike!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I don't know how to dance the Flamenco, but this skirt makes me want to learn!

A new favorite - the Knit Flamenco Skirt from Garnet Hill.  It is a soft comfortable knit, hits just below the knee and is topped with layers of soft ruffles that lay flat.  Cute with a dark red floral embroidered T, or a soft pink cardigan, or a simple black T - with sandals, flats, or boots - the combinations are limitless. Comfort, style, and just a bit of sass!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lime, Basil & Mandarin

No, not a recipe for a new Thai favorite, but one of my favorite scents ~ Lime, Basil, Mandarin from Jo Malone.  A hint of citrus, a bit of herbal; not too heavy, somehow just right.  Fresh.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Belle of the Ball

This dessert is too good and too easy not to share with you.  Blueberry Belle Crunch - a simple but delicious dessert bursting with tart and juicy blueberries with an crunchy topping that tastes like an oatmeal cookie.  Yum!
Blueberry Belle Crunch
2 cups blueberries
2 T lemon juice
2 T flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar.  
Spread in a greased 9x9 pan.  

1 c flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cut in:
1/2 cup butter 
until mixture resembles course meal.
Sprinkle over blueberry mixture.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Laundry Room Space Saver

If you stopped after looking at just the first picture, you might wonder what what's so exciting about this item.  But the second picture reveals the ingenious design.  This wall mounted drying rack unfolds to allow 14 feet of drying space, then folds neatly away when not in use.  I've tried other drying racks and have never been satisfied - they take up too much space or are clumsy to use.  This one is neat and tidy, was easy to install, and sells for $34.99 at the Container Store.   Look for the Fold-Away Drying Rack. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Hunt is Over!

I've found it!  All summer long I have been looking for the perfect warm weather handbag.  Two Rules:  1)  Zipper top  and  2)  Light weight,  and preferably in a luggage tan leather.  Last week, when I breezed through Macy's on my way to the car, I found it!  The MICHAEL Michael Kors Large Tote (which really isn't that large).  The price scared me a way for a bit, but then I decided to go for it.  You see, I'm not one to switch bags every day.  I generally use the same bag all season long.  I started the spring with a white patent bag from last year, but was totally frustrated in that I kept spilling my "stuff".  I had broken Rule #1 - Zipper Top.  While the white bag did have a zipper section for my wallet, the main closure was magnetic.  Never again.  I ditched the white bag for an orange satchel from a few years ago.  While the color was fun, the straps soon began to lose their stitching and it started looking kind of ratty.  Added to the fact that all my "stuff" ended up in a clump in the middle.  The hunt continued.  Taking a quick spin through Macy's, I weight tested a few bags that caught my eye - picking each one up to check how heavy it was.  This luggage brown leather tote was the answer to my quest.  Zipper top.  Light weight.  Soft luggage brown leather.  An outer pocket on each end - one for keys, one for sunglasses.  Four open pockets in the inside, for pens & gloss, phone, a pack of gum & my clip of cards.  One inside zipper pocket.  It holds its shape and keeps everything from ending up in a clump in the center.  Not too big but holds the essentials.  In a pinch, can hold a bit more.  Out running errands today I added a prescription, a book, and a water bottle.  A bit heavier for sure, but still looking good.  The straps are just the right length for looping over your shoulder or carrying at your side.  I'm not big on logos, so I removed the MK hanging logo charm.  I don't need to impress anyone or advertise for free. I love, Love, LOVE it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to Basics

After flirting with other, trendier, beach bags over the last year or two, I've gone back to a tried and true basic... Lands End Zip Top Canvas Bags.  The classic style is here to stay.  The zip top means my stuff doesn't spill out and roll around the bottom of the boat or into the pool.  The inside pockets let me find my cell phone quickly when it starts to ring.  The outside pocket keeps my lip balm handy.  Big enough to hold the essentials - towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, water bottle, phone and lip balm and a good beach read.  Don't be tempted by fleeting trends - stick with a classic.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do you have one of these yet...if not, you really should!

My sister gave me one of these a few years ago and I have been using it at least weekly, if not more often, ever since.  It's a Microplane Grater.  I use it for zesting lemon and limes, grating ginger, and shaving chocolate.  Originally a wood working tool, it's now a favorite of chefs and cooks and can be found in several sizes.  Be careful, it is sharp, but if you don't already have one...you really should!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pretty Pins....

Yes, these are bobby pins and that might seem a little dull, but let me explain what makes these special.  These bobby pins are a bit longer, a bit stronger, and have a cute ruffled look.  Plus, they come in different colors to match, or contrast, with your hair color.  I picked up a package of the blond collection at Walmart last week and have been wearing them almost every day since then - to control a stray curl or keep the bangs out of my eyes during a tennis match.  Excellent hold and a bit of metallic sparkle.  I really like them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crackers? hmmm... Flatbread? YUM!

I mixed up some home made chicken salad from some left over rotisserie chicken for lunch today.  A little bit of onion, some celery, dried sour cherries, salt, pepper and lite mayo all stirred in with the leftover chicken and mmm, makes a great lunch.  But what made this so good today - new Flatbread Crisps from Town House in the Sea Salt & Olive Oil flavor.  Crispy, crunchy and the perfect blend of seasonings.  Much better than the usual wheat toast or traditional cracker.  I think these would be wonderful with many kinds of dips, spreads or cheese - or even just a small handful with a glass of wine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Shoes!

Aren't these shoes cute?!  I recently ordered this pair of Fidji 903's from Nordstroms.  They are so cute, so comfortable, so stylish.... and they were on sale.  I love the go-with-everything bronze color and the little bit of heel.   Unfortunately, they are no longer available on the web site but I noticed my were actually shipped from a store so they may still be available from Nordstroms.  But if you can't find these, check out the other cute styles from Fidji.  Their style names leave a little to be desired (903?!), but the shoes are really, really cute.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pretzel M&M's - Two favorites combined!

Look what's new in the candy aisle.... Pretzel M&M's!  M&M's has done it - combined two of my favorites into the perfect little bite size candy.  Sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy, and colorful, too!  My daughter tells me these were test marketed in Columbus, Ohio.  Apparently they passed the test because I have seen them both in CVS and Wal-Mart.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Super Soft Sleepwear

Check out this Super Soft Sleepwear from Gap Body!  I have had several different styles and colors of this sleepwear over the past few years.  So soft, so comfortable!  The styles available this season include the cute cami and lace-trimmed pants.  And you can pick from several colors - including basic black, this soft blue, or a blush pink.  Really pretty, and did I mention, so soft, too?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Perfect Spring Hoodie

You are going to love this light weight hoodie from Gap.  It's called the Vintage Roll-up Hoodie, comes in white, light blue or tan and is $34.50 (but watch for deals & promos).  It is SO soft and very light weight - perfect to throw on over a t-shirt when the sun goes down.  The best part is the roll-up sleeves giving you an extra bit of style.  I really do think you'll love it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mmmm - a little sweet treat!

I have to admit, the first time I saw this little white bonbon sitting in front of my place at a friend's house in Germany, I was a little bit nervous to take a bite thinking there would probably be a hazelnut hidden inside and hazelnuts are not my favorites.  But what a nice surprise....coconut, vanilla cream, and an almond!   Now if you've read this blog for awhile, you know I am nutty for almonds, but this might be the best yet ~ Fererro Rocher Raffaello's.  You can find these sweet treats at Walgreens and some Walmart stores.  Best savored slowly - just one for a sweet little treat.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Favorite from Last Year Returns!

I had just about given up hope on this clever item - Chilled Salad Bowl with Servers - from Crate and Barrel. After buying one of these last summer, I bragged it up to my friends and family. But when I went to purchase a second one for a gift, I could not find it in the store, catalog or website! So it made my day to see this back in the latest Crate and Barrel catalog, on the website, and in the store. A couple of things make this salad bowl a "pearl". First of all, the serving utensils store right on the lid and are held secure with just a little snap. The second clever feature that elevates this above your common plastic bowl is the removable icepack that fits into a cover on the bottom. Store the icepack in the freezer, then insert under the bottom cover when you are ready to leave for your picnic or carry-in to keep your salads fresh and chilled. Only $14.95 at Crate and Barrel.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pampered Chef - Old & New Favorites

I'm not a big Pampered Chef fan, usually relying on my local kitchen store for new gadgets and utensils. But recently a friend hosted a Pampered Chef party for charity and I was in need of a night out, and so I went to my first Pampered Chef party in about 10 years. I was reminded of a Old Favorite - Small Micro Steamer - and came home with a New Favorite - Mix N' Chop.

I have had the Small Micro Steamer for at least 10 years. It perfectly holds a one pound package of frozen vegetables, and with just a few minutes in the microwave, you can quickly drain and serve. I have easily gotten my $8 worth. My New Favorite is the Mix N' Chop which sells for $10. This clever gadget is perfect for breaking up ground beef as you brown it. It quickly and easily breaks down the meat to small pieces with minimal effort. So nice when you are making tacos, chili, or spaghetti sauce!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Middle

The Middle - Laugh-out-loud funny and family friendly! Don't miss this show on Wednesday nights on ABC. The Middle stars Patrician Heaton as the mom, Frankie, of a "middle" class family living in Indiana, or "the middle" of the country. But the actor who steals the show is the youngest son, "Brick", who is a funny little kid with an even funnier habit of repeating the last word in a sentence in a quiet whisper (whisper). Other family members are a hard-working Dad who spends his days as supervisor of a gravel quarry, a teen-age son who likes to sit around in his boxers and thinks his parents are so un-cool, and a junior high age daughter "Sue" who tries out for all sorts of extracurricular activities with enthusiasm but unfortunately gets cut from every single one. Frankie is just trying to do her best, like a lot of us moms, holding it all together, fund raising for the athletic boosters, working part-time, and singing in the church choir while still trying to get the family all together around the dinner table even if it is just for fast food.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Safety on the Streets

The Wrist ID Elite by Road ID - This is one of those products that you think is a great idea, but often don't get around to ordering. I want to encourage you, if you are a runner, walker, biker or hiker or related to a runner, walker, biker or hiker, take the time to order one of these today. As their advertisements say: If you can't speak for yourself, the Road ID will speak for you. The bracelet is made from a rubberized band with a watch-style buckle and laser engraved stainless steel identification plate and is available in classic black or eight other colors. The band is fully adjustable and water proof. You can customize the engraving with information that is important to you. Road ID also offers other styles including a shoe tag. You can check out the colors and other styles as well as order directly from the website: www.roadid.com
I gave an orange Wrist ID Elite to my husband for Christmas and I now rest much easier when he leaves for his morning run at 5am!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shine & Define

Aveda Brilliant Humectant Pomade ~ Just a dab of this is all you need to define your curls and add some shine. Rub a little between your palms and apply to styled hair. It leaves hair soft, shiny, and with a touch of an amazing, fresh, clean scent.

Monday, February 15, 2010


How do you begin to describe the work of Dale Chihuly? Colorful! Extravagant! Breath-taking! Beautiful! Inspiring! Surreal! Exotic! The list could go on and on, and yet none of these words seems quite right. Whenever you get the opportunity to view an exhibit of Chihuly's work - do not hesitate. The giant glass pieces will take your breath away.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Measure-Mix-Pour-Store Multi Mixer

This simple little gadget has become a new favorite in my kitchen. Measure, Mix, Pour & Store all in one container! Measure out your ingredients, then just give the lever a few quick flicks and your dressing or marinade is ready to go. I used my multi mixer last week for salad dressing, the next for a chimichurri sauce. Clean up is easy. I picked one up at Walmart several months ago, then went back before Christmas to clear out their stock so I could use them as my "Favorite Things" gift this year. I think this could be a new favorite for you, too!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Flosser Mystery Solved!

Confession: I was a reluctant flosser. I hated the way the floss would cut off the circulation in my fingers and I couldn't fit my hands in my mouth far enough to do a good job. So, more often than I care to admit, it didn't happen. But, one of my goals in 2009 was to become a dedicated flosser ~ and these little gizmos made it possible. Unfortunately, as my supply ran out, I picked up another brand thinking all flossers were the same. Well, they are not! I went through several different brands, using just a few before throwing out the rest of the bag. One brand was so bad that the floss got stuck between my teeth so tight that I had to cut it out with a scissors. But I didn't want to switch to the expensive Glide brand flossers - I mean really, it's a disposable flosser, I want to get by as cheap as possible. Finally, after months of frustration, I was back in CVS and walking down the dental care aisle when something caught my eye. There it was, a familiar bag - my favorite flosser! Mystery Solved! When I worked for CVS I used to do a lot more of my shopping there, but now, not as much. So that explains why I hadn't been able to find them. Now, I am a happy, committed flosser once again.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Clear Glass Cylinders - a grown-up toy!

I have a small collection of clear glass cylinders of various sizes. My mom got me started several years ago with a set of three for Christmas. Then I picked up a short squatty one at TJMaxx last year, and added a couple of others that contained candles at one time that I recycled and cleaned out once the candle was burned up. I used these at Christmas for a easy, fun and festive centerpiece. Other times, I have filled them with cranberries with a floating candle on top. Use your imagination! To brighten things up in the spring, fill them with citrus - either whole fruit or slices. Maybe acorns in the fall? They are nice to have available for a quick, interesting centerpiece.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Upgrade your Tomato Soup

I first saw this a few years ago at Trader Joe's and it was love at first bite! Actually, at Trader Joe's it is packaged under their own private label, but I discovered this same soup available at Super Target and now at my own local Marsh grocery under the Pacific brand. It's the same creamy tomato goodness you are used to, but with the addition of a hint of roasted red pepper. The red pepper flavor is not overpowering, but accents the tomato perfectly. Serve this with a Havarti and Tomato Panini and you have the adult version of the childhood favorite - Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup.