Thursday, January 28, 2010

Craft Room Fantasies

Is anyone else insanely jealous of these craft rooms that were featured on bhg.com?





I think that having an area designated for crafting would be so inspiring. I'd have to do something creative everyday!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dreaming of Summer

It's rainy, windy and cold here in California, so I keep finding myself dreaming about sunny days. Since we've moved into our new home, we have neglected to fix up the backyard. (Mostly because we needed to focus our attention on the inside of the house). We have ideas about what we want to accomplish in the backyard, but can't do a thing until this weather clears up. We dream of removing our pool and transforming our backyard into more than just a back yard. We want an outdoor room!

Here are some photos that I have saved over the past few years to serve as inspiration for when we finally are able to tackle our yard. Enjoy!








Beautiful, right? A summer night spent outside is the best! What is your favorite way to spend a warm summer evening?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We Fondue. Do you?

Planning to spend Valentine's Day at home? Why not have some chocolate fondue?


Here's what you'll need:

16 ounces of dark, sweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups of Light Cream
1 tsp.Vanilla Extract

Instructions:
1. Break chocolate squares into smaller pieces and drop them into the fondue pot.
2. Add the cream and stir gently but constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
3. Stir in the vanilla extract.
4. Enjoy!


Be sure to prepare your fruit slices in advance. Sprinkle lemon juice over the apple, pear and banana slices so they won't go brown. We like to use angel food cake, marshmallows, strawberries and cookies.

Just typing this has made my mouth water! I'm off to make some fondue!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Give a Grown Up Valentine

Didn't you love to exchange Valentines when you were a kid? I remember being so excited to open all of the little envelopes to read the special messages inside. But really, the best part was the candy, right?

I still love to give a little something to my friends on Valentine's Day.

Below is a super easy grown-up Valentine to give to your friends and family.

Easy, right?
All you need to do is head over to the craft store and buy some pretty scrapbooking paper, ribbon and maybe some other embellishments. Wrap up some candy bars and you'll be good
to go! Easy, pretty and YUMMY.

Photo from bhg.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Part 2: How to Host a Wine Tasting Party


Now that you've properly paired your wines, you're ready for the fun to begin. For those of you who are new to wine tasting, here's what you need to know:


Step 1: See

Check out the color of your wine. A red wine could be described as maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, brick or even brownish. A white wine may be described as straw toned, yellow or golden. Make note of it's clarity. It may look brilliant, clear, dull or cloudy. Can you see any sediment?


Step 2: Swirl

Give your glass a swirl and take a second look. You may see sediment now. Swirling your wine also helps to release the aroma of your wine.


Step 3: Smell

Put your nose down into the glass and take a deep inhale through your nose. What do you smell? Do you smell oak, berries, flowers, vanilla, citrus? Swirl again and give it another sniff. You may smell pepper, cinnamon or nuts. Sometimes you may get a hint of tobacco, grass, hay or even dirt.


Step 4: Sip

Take a Sip. Start with a small sip and let it roll around your tongue. Let all of your taste buds come in contact with it. Pucker your lips and suck in a small amount of air. Notice how the air changes the taste of the wine. Now take a bite of your food pairing. Take another sip of your wine and notice how the food brings out different tastes in the wine.


Now that you've tasted your wine, compare notes with everyone else. Before you move on to the next wine, be sure to cleanse your palette with a water cracker.


Cheers!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Part 1: How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

We love wine. We love the smell of wine. We love the taste of wine. And we love sharing wine.


If you're planning to host a wine tasting party, here's what you need to know:

*You'll need to buy a variety of wines. (Preferably whites and reds). If this is not within your budget, how about asking each guest to bring a bottle of their favorite wine?

*Find the right cheese to pair with each wine.

Serving a shiraz? Pair it with some zesty manchego.
Plan to down a malbec? You'll need something full bodied, like a piave.
Enjoying a sauvignon blanc? A light goat cheese would be best.
Craving chardonnay? Pair it with something creamy and smooth.
Can't put down the pinot noir? You need a sottocenere.
Fruits and nuts are also great munchies to have on hand. And chocolate is a MUST!
Don't forget the Carr's water crackers to cleanse the palette.

Chill your white wines in the fridge for about 20 minutes or use a wine chiller. If you're using a wine bucket with ice, submerge your bottle for no more than 3o minutes. Be sure to remove your wines from wherever they are being chilled about 20 minutes before you plan to serve them. Wines that are too cold are hard to taste.

Red wines should be opened at least 20 minutes before you plan to serve them. This allows them time to breathe. If you prefer, you can use a decanter.



When pouring your tastings, be sure to taste the whites first. For example:

1. Sauvignon Blanc
2. Chardonnay
3. Pinot Noir
4. Shiraz
5. Malbec

If you need help deciding the order, don't hesitate to ask someone. Your local wine shop is a wealth of information!


Tomorrow we'll talk about the 4 S's: See, Swirl, Smell & Sip.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Give a Handmade Valentine's Day Gift this year.

Here's an easy and beautiful gift that can be made for a mom, grandmother, sister or friend for Valentines day. All you need is a small box, some pretty beads or buttons and a glue gun. Then you can use the box to give a truffle or maybe a piece of homemade jewelry. Want to give something a bit more sentimental? How about putting a handwritten letter inside?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Black & White Decor

Are you a fan of decorating with black and white? We love the modern look of black and white with a splash of color. Check out these photos for inspiration.




Friday, January 8, 2010

Just an excuse to show someone you care.

Yes, it's a bit early, but I love getting a early start! This Valentine's day, instead of just focusing on your significant other, how about brightening the day of someone who may not have a Valentine? How about an elderly neighbor or a grandparent? Or maybe a friend that is going through a difficult time?

I found the below picture on www.bhg.com and I have to say that this would be a super easy gift to put together. You could even include some tea cups or homemade tea cookies.


How do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Do you have any special traditions?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A little birdie told me . . . to fix our bird feeders!

We get a TON of birds in our yard and our (indoor) cats love watching all of them. We hang bird feeders close to the windows so that our cats can watch the birds all day long. Every so often the bird feeders will be knocked to the ground because of a frisky squirrel or an overly excited bird. To solve this problem, we've changed the way that we hang the feeders. Check it out.

We bought these Eye Hooks and screwed them into the eave that hangs over our cat's favorite window.

Then we attached these Quick Links (They open and close with a small screw).

Then we hung the feeders as our cats waited anxiously.

Now we have happy kitties and happy birdies.

And we won't have to work about any pesky squirrels knocking these feeders to the ground anymore!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Ornaments are not just for Christmas Anymore!

Like most people, we spent a good portion of the weekend putting away Christmas decorations. Putting Christmas decorations up = fun. Taking Christmas decorations down and putting them away = not so much fun.

Some decorations were tough to put away and I found myself finding new uses for them. Like these faux crystal ornaments that I purchased for our tree this year.



They were just too pretty to put away and I thought they would look so pretty in my dressing room. So, now they hang on my curtain rod to add just a little bit more sparkle to my room.


Also, I added one to the bottom of my Ikea chandelier just to make it sparkle a teeny bit more.


How about you? Are you having a tough time putting all of your Christmas decorations away? Have you found a way to include some Christmas decorations into your daily decor?