Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last minute party idea!

Let the countdown begin! No doubt if you are hosting a party where family and friends are planning to bring children, you probably have the food options well in hand by now. But what about something other than the TV to entertain the younger set? Martha Stewart suggests getting plain plastic top hats (the ones pictured are from Oriental Trading) and setting out all sorts of basic craft supplies (easy to get at Michaels, Jo-Ann's or Target if you don't already have some) - glue, stickers, child-safe scissors, pom-poms, streamers (left over tinsel?) and double-sided tape. Soon you will have your own New Year's "mad-hatters" creating their own party hats! (Personally I'd recommend more tape and less glue and stay away from glitter!).

Have fun and be safe out there!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sweet treat for any occasion!

So here's a great dessert idea, especially for a party! (Thanks, Charlie!) - Take a muffin pan/cupcake tin and turn it upside down. Cover the "molds" with cookie dough and bake. When they are done you have cookie bowls for ice-cream, sorbet or fruit! Easy yet a little bit different!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

After the holiday clean-up tricks

The gift wrap is still laying around the tree, guests have finally departed and it's time to get your house ready for New Year's Eve. Here are a few hints to help you make clean-up a cinch:

* Use wire to make arack against the ceiling in a closet to store rolls of gift wrap - keeps them from taking up space and getting ripped in the process.

* Use a walnut (out of shell of course!) to rub over scratches in wood furniture to disguise dings and scrapes.

* Use egg cartons to separate and store your holiday decorations.

* And that earring you lost during the party? Put a nylon stocking over the vacuum hose and use it to gently pick up tiny items like that before you do the full cleaning.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Wishing you and your friends and families a peaceful and wonderful holiday wherever you are!

I will return and have more posts for you on Dec. 27th.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Give the gift of gratitude

I came across the perfect post for this season at entitled "Five Ways to Show Gratitude." Here are counselor Richard Nicastro's recommendations to improve all of the relationships in your life:

  • Think small (don't wait for the new car or dream cruise; focus on the little things, your spouse's smile, a friend picking up a coffee for you...)

  • Choose to be grateful (for everything, not just for what you want - like being able to breathe fresh air...)

  • Feel appreciation before you express it (it means more if your words are authentic and heart-felt!)

  • Don't expect anything in return (be selfless!)

  • Avoid expressing gratitude when others are upset with you (resolve conflicts or issues before you say "thank you")

If everyone chose to do these things, wouldn't our world be a nicer place? Let's be the ones who start the trend!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Decorate and party at the same time!

OK, so we are a little late in the season with this one, but still a fun idea and I'll offer another twist at the end as well!

Why not host a holiday decorating party (now my source was suggesting Christmas, but there are plenty of options during this season). First, set up a small artificial tree and ask guests to bring an ornaments that they feel define themselves. You serve beverages and flavored popcorns and they decorate the tree. What a nice way to remember friends each year!

Now for the twist - have friends come by each with an appetizer for a party - you provide beverages and cut-out cookies with all the decorating goodies - sprinkles, frosting, etc. and everyone leaves with a few cookies and fond memories. (This is also great for a kids' holiday gathering).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nuts about the holidays!

Looking for a last minute gift for someone and minimal budget remains for your holiday list? I came across a recipe that is simple and can be used as a holiday gift, hostess present, midnight snack (for Santa?) or even a great game day munchie! Here you go - you can thank me later!

Spiced Nuts

3 cups pecans

1 cup shelled pistachios

2 cups almonds

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

3 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 and 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 and 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven, shaking the sheet several times during baking, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet over low heat, add coriander, cumin, butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne and salt. Stir until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Place nuts in a bowl and drizzle with the warm, spiced butter; stir until well-coated. Let the nuts cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes 6 cups.

You can certainly substitute peanuts (not great idea for a gift in case of recipient having allergies), cashews or other favorites in the recipe. Play with it and make it your own signature holiday gift!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Gallery at your Fingertips!

Ah yes, the holidays are around the corner and you have a little time off, but not enough to travel (to say nothing of the lack of funds after that last trip to the mall)! What to do, you ask? Check out for virtual tours of the most amazing museums in the world - "visit" the Tate in London or MoMA in NYC. There are no crowds or lines or expenses, just you and some great masterpieces!