Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kate Spade Holiday Dessert Plates

Last night I settled down on the couch eager for a chance to read my December issue of Bon Appetit. I had been waiting to dig into it until I had enough time to poor over the pages. The December issue is my favorite as I get excited to cook for the holidays. I always enjoy Bon Appetit's finds in their shopping section. This month was no exception. My eye was quickly drawn to this set of whimsical Kate Spade "tidbit" plates called "Holly Heights" - $50 for a set of 4. As Bon Appetit so aptly pointed out, you don't need a reindeer design to communicate holiday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Wish List Online

Last year my husband's family started using an online wish list for Christmas gifts. It is so amazing to be able to see what everyone wants, how badly they want it and whether or not someone else has bought it yet! It's not the prettiest site, but it does just what you need it to. You can share your list with designated groups and post links of where to buy your listed items. Check it out at http://www.christmaswishlist.net/.

P.S. Apparently you can even create a list for your pet. I was just looking at our family site and it appears that my brother-in-law made one for his dog. One of the doggie's wishes - a pass to spend the night at my house - too funny!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 12: 12 Days of Christmas - For Service Providers

So sad, today is the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas gift idea series. It's been fun searching for gift ideas and I've found some ideas for my own shopping needs along the way. After consulting with my friends Rachel and Naomi on Sunday, I've decided to close with ideas for service providers. That's a terrible term I know, but it was the most appropriate brief description I could come up with to describe those people in our life who deserve a little something to show our appreciation for their work all year long: the teachers, baby sitters, youth leaders, hair stylists, chiropractors, mail men, pool guys and gardeners in our lives.

The hot cocoa items above are from Crate & Barrel, you can give the whole collection for just over $20: Holiday cocoa $3.95, Mini Mighty Marshmellows $6.95 and Peppermint spoons $9.95.

Go big:
get the big cocoa $9.95 and add a set of holiday mugs $8.95 each.

Other ideas for service providers:
Ghiradelli peppermint bark bar $3.95 or holiday squares collection, fresh fruit basket $39.95+ Harry & David, gift card to their favorite lunch or coffee stop, pair of movie tickets 2 for $15 (in store) Costco, homemade cookies in a holiday tin, mulling spices & stirrers $19.95 William-Sonoma, set of red votives $14.95 Cost Plus, tin of Peppermint bark or Enligh toffee $9.95 Cost Plus, homebaked pecan pie, Holiday bar towels 4 for $15 Pier 1, set of tea-to-go tins $4.50 each Pier 1, or a bottle of wine.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 11: 12 Days of Christmas - For Travellers

When I'm in a hotel I'm always nervous to use their alarm clocks in case I set it wrong. Then I spend about 10 minutes trying to find the alarm clock function in my cell phone. A travel alarm clock would be nice to have. $24.99 at Barnes and Noble. My boss was just telling us how on her trip this week she forgot that her BlackBerry was set to PT and not ET so she almost missed her flight home! Maybe I should get her one for Christmas...

Go big: Franklin Covey laptop bag him $79.95 or her $129. Ok so that was WAY big!

Other ideas for travellers: travel candle $5.95 TravelTins.com, leather luggage tags $38 for set of 3 Levengers.com, Fossil coin purse for all those coin Euros $30 Macy's, cross-body bag to avoid purse snatchers $18.95 Target, travel manicure set $8 Bath & Body works, passport holder $14.95 Barnes and Noble, mini wireless mouse $44.95 Best Buy, Logitech portable iPod speakers folds up into a convenient travel case $129.95 Apple.com, Quilted pink travel bags $45.99 set of 2 Target, travel train case for cosmetics $65 Fossil, men's accessory case $50 Fossil, leather travel jewlery case $39 Pottery Barn, lingerie bag $16 Anthropologie, shoe bags to keep your shoes from dirtying your clothes $16.99 set of 2 Target, shoe shine kit $17.95 Gifts for Professionals, and travel tie case $30 Amazon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day 10: 12 Days of Christmas - For Her

I really like these colorful scarves by Roxy. They make a fun accessory for wintertime and they are lightwieght which is nice for us SoCal people. $22 at Nordstrom.

Go big: Add these cute and cozy slippers by Roxy for $24.

Other ideas for her: An elegant bangle bracelet from Banana Republic $39, Evening clutch from Ann Taylor Loft $49, Argyle crewneck sweater $49 Gap, Toggle coat $98 Nordstrom, Wool pea coat $59 Target, Pair of comfy winter PJs (see Gap), Classic jewerly box (see Pottery Barn), Oakley purse $40, iTouch $229+, make up brush set $60 Sephora, Cupcake Jar Candle $16 Anthropologie, Set of dessert plates Anthropologie, jersey robe $14.99 Target, Sleep aromatherapy $5-35 Bath & Body Works, warming face mask $16.50 The Body Shop, Origins lip gloss set $27.50 Nordstrom, facial certificate, mani/pedi certificate, oh and MelliB jewelry of course! $8-26.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 9: 12 Days of Christmas - For Him

Guys of all ages still just want to get toys for Christmas. So how about this Marshmellow Shooter for $16.99 at Drugstore.com? I bought my hubby two for Christmas last year and he took it to his parent's house on Christmas day to play with his brothers. His only complaint, the marshmellows get stuck in the gun after you've used them once so be sure to buy the foam pellets too.

Go big: Buy two. One for him, one for a friend. Otherwise he might spend all day shooting at you.

Other ideas for him: Sanuk sidewalk surfer shoes $55, Sony Home Theatre Soundbar $329.99 at BestBuy, Barbeque Bible by grillmaster Steve Raichlen $10.36 on Amazon, an outdoor grill, a pair of Oakley sunglasses, nice watch, iPod touch, iTunes gift card, GameStop gift card, Car and Driver or MotorTrend magazine subscription, or a bucket of car wash supplies (large sponge, squeegie, chamois, towels, hose spray nozzle, wax, carnauba wash, tire foam, wheel brush, detailing spray).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 8: 12 Days of Christmas - For Co-workers

The Cubicaller is the perfect silly gift for anyone who works in a cubicle like I do. $15 at Restoration Hardware. 12 volume-adjustable sounds, from ray gun to kitten and doorbell. Oh yeah, I can just see my team driving each other crazy with it now.

Go big: Maybe something a little more serious like this plush throw blanket for $49 or matching down slippers for $20.

Other ideas for co-workers: Instead of sugary treats that the office is already filled with, why not a home baked quick bread such as pumpkin or banana. Not a cook, but your co-worker is? A nice bread mix $8.95 wrapped in a holiday dishtowel $4.95 at Crate & Barrel. A stylish leather business card case $10.95+ Gifts for Professionals, Bodum tea press to brew a proper cup of tea at the office $24.95 Target, travel mug $14.95 Coffee Bean & Tea leaf (add a bag of chocolate covered espresso beans), classic ornament $8 Anthropologie, cool file folders $10.50 Paper Source, Puzzle Calendar $12.50 Paper Source, Hand Lotion Trio $25 L'Occitane, Mini Crocus Set $15 Restoration Hardware, 50 Best Excuses and Lies $10 Restoration Hardware, or Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Workplace $8.97 Amazon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 7: 12 Days of Christmas - For Hostesses

She'll be sure to display this charming Winter Village dishtowel in her kitchen year after year. $18.00 from Anthropologie. Isn't it adorable?!

Go big: Pick a frilly nostalgic apron $24-38 or Christmas potholders $12 to go with.

Other ideas for hostesses: William-Sonoma Holiday Entertaining Book $34.95, the best Christmas tree candle ever - it actually smells like the real thing $2-29 at Illuminations, Pottery Barn Condiment Set $49, Holiday spreaders $20 at Sur la Table, Holiday guest towels $14 at Pottery Barn, Jazz Christmas CD - see Diana Krall, or almost anything from Crate & Barrel: hot cocoa spoons $2.95, cheese plates, knives, picks, or platters, Whimsy serving bowls, punch bowl set $36.95, appetizer spoons $19.95.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 6: 12 Days of Christmas - For Dad

I don't know about you, but my dad is really hard to shop for. He buys everything he needs or wants. And when you ask him for ideas he suggests things like black socks or white tees. "No dad, I am not stocking your underwear drawer for Christmas!" Us kids are pretty much resigned to buying him movie tickets and cashews year after year. And I think he actually gets more excited over those simple treats then the times we try to buy him expensive gifts.

With that said, I hope you dad is easier to shop for! These fun Monopoly car cuff links are $20 at Lizzie Blue's Shop on Etsy. Not quite his style? A quick search on Etsy brings up all types of individualistic cuff links.

Go big: Buy him personalized cuff links. Try cufflinks.com or Things Remembered.

Other ideas for dad: A monogrammed steak brand from William-Sonoma for $39.95, gift certificate to Omaha steaks, spice rubs $24 for set of 4, power tools, sporting equipment, camping gear, MP3 player, digital video camera, flat screen TV, a new leather wallet, sporting event tickets, concert tickets, or a gift basket of his favorite snacks & drinks [like cashews =)].

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 5: 12 Days of Christmas - For Baby

Who can resist playing with a good old fashioned wooden pull toy? This Monkey pull toy is $24.95 at Pottery Barn Kids.

Go big: Get the Jumbo Wood Pull Toy Train for $89.oo. It's sure to be a keepsake item.

Other ideas for baby: Plush giraffe $12 at Anthropologie, a special holiday outfit from Janie & Jack boy or girl $60+, a collectible book (see This is New York $14.36 from Barnes and Noble), ABCs block cart for $12.99 at Target, a unique onesie $12 from Inklore.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 4: 12 Days of Christmas - For Cooks

I love to cook and I'll never forget the time a friend gave us a brand new scone pan with fresh baked scones in it - and we got to keep the pan! This one is $24.95 at Target. This pan also makes great cornbread as each serving gets a nice crust around it. Bake your favorite scone or cornbread recipe and attach the recipe to your gift. Not much of a cook? Buy a scone or cornbread mix to go with it instead.

Go big: Accessorize with a mixing bowl, bamboo wooden spoon, tea towel or multiple baking mixes.

Other ideas for the cook: Sprinkles cupcake mix, a good set of paring knives, Cuisinart Food Processor, Kitchen Aid Mixer, a Wusthof Santoku knife (it will their new favorite if they don't have one yet!), subscription to Bon Appetit or Gourmet magazine, a classic cookbook to add to their collection: The Silver Spoon, The Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything, or the Gourmet Cookbook.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day 3: 12 Days of Christmas - For Kids

For the little girl or boy in your life, what about a classic tea set for $15.99 or a design-your-own car & train set for $23.99 at Target. Even though I don't have children yet, I love to buy toys that encourage imagination.

Go big: Girl's Jewelry Box from Pottery Barn Kids, or Skyscrapers Building Blocks for boys from Oompa Toys.

Other ideas for kids: Superhero in a box, princess dress up clothes, art supplies, craft kits, educational books, sports equipment, Legos, play kitchen toys, or a fold up play tent.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day 2: 12 Days of Christmas - For Families

Fill this cheerful popcorn bowl full of treats! $16.95 from Crate & Barrel. What to fill it with?
Microwave popcorn packets, movie sized candy boxes from Target, a favorite movie or two. Look for old classics on DVD at Target that sell for only $5-6. Wrap in clear cellophane and a big bow. Who wouldn't be excited to get that!

Go big: Buy gourmet treats at Trader Joe's or a local upscale grocery store: macadamia nut caramel corn, chocolate truffles, assorted chocolate bars, peanut butter filled pretzles, toasted almonds, trail mix, or cookies. Add decks of card games such as UNO, Skip Bo, Old Maid, and Go Fish.

Other ideas for families: A board game they don't have yet, outdoor game equipment such as croquet or bocce ball, movie tickets, an annual museum or zoo pass, or an ice cream sundae themed gift basket including sundae dishes, candy toppings, sprinkles and sauces.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Day 1: 12 Days of Christmas - For Mom

The 12 Days of Christmas have finally commenced! I'm so excited to start sharing some Christmas Gift Ideas with you. They will all start under $25 and each day will have a "who" theme...for Mom, Baby, Co-worker etc.

This precious tiny house pendant is $18 + $4 shipping from J. Davis Studio on Etsy. I thought it would be a sweet gift for mom, as home is close at heart for many of our moms.

Go big: Add a pair of coordinating tree earrings for $21.

Other ideas for mom: Spa treatment, custom jewelry with children's birthstones (try Things Remembered, Red Envelope, Limoges), a calendar with family photos each month (Shutterfly or other photo website), L'Occitane skincare products, or create a custom Tastebook full of family recipes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What I'm Missing Right Now...NYC Pizza

I've been craving a real NYC thin crust cheese pizza for about two weeks now. It's probably because some of my co-workers have been there recently. I was just there in June so I didn't think I'd be anxious to go back already, but I am. It's really not fair that they have so much incredible food there. Only in NYC can you arrive at your hotel at 10pm on a Sunday night, ask the concierge if there are any good pizza places still open that deliver, be instantly handed a menu, go up to your room and order a small thin crust cheese pizza, have it delivered for free in 20 minutes, then watch a movie on cable as you dig in and wish your company needed you to travel to New York more often. (And they still continue to move all the trade shows to Vegas, will I ever get to go back on the company's dime?)

Anyways, if you happen to be going to NYC anytime soon, my "hits-the-spot" late night hotel pizza was from the Ray's Pizza on 7th Avenue between 53rd and 54th. For a nicer sit down experience I'd recommend Angelo's, my husband & I ate there 3 times the first time we went to NYC, they use real buffalo mozarella and fresh basil on their pizzas - amazing!

Tonight I tried to curb my craving with two slices to go from Gina's Pizza in Corona Del Mar. I forgot to request thin crust so it didn't really do it for me. But Gina's is my favorite pizza so far down here in South Orange County. Do you have any local pizza recommendations?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Keep an Eye Out!

The 12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas postings start this Friday! Each day for 12 consecutive days, I will post a gift idea under $25. If you would like these ideas sent to your inbox so you don't miss any, you can subscribe via email on the right.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Bit of Halloween

I thought it would be fun to share some photos of the decorations and treats from the little Halloween Party we had at our house on Friday. Above is our mantle, covered with every glass vase I could find and filled with candy corn.

The warm glow. I was wishing for rain but it ended up being a bit warm out - oh well!

The mantle centerpiece was my "spooky" tree...I bought branches from Michael's and spray painted them black. The crows were cut out from black cardstock scrapbook paper using pictures of crows I found on Google Images as templates.

The dessert table. Candy is displayed in glass jars and dishes. Cinnamon popcorn balls are piled high on the right.

These skull cookies are a modification from a Martha Stewart idea. They didn't turn out quite as pretty as the magazine! I used Keebler Grasshopper cookies instead of making my own madelines and coating them in chocolate - seriously, who has time for that! They tasted really good, like a minty smore.

The graveyard. I'd been eying these tin black haunted houses this season, $60 at Pottery Barn (pass!), $30 at Target (still a bit much), $10 on sale at Von's 3 days before Halloween (sold!). The brownie coffins are also a modification of a Martha Stewart idea. I ran out of time to try the rolled out marzipan topping (the fleur de lys frosting decoration was never going to happen) and settled for a simple cross piped on with royal icing.

The pumpkin I carved during the contest at work earlier that day. My team won - yay!

The fruit that didn't make it into those cute chocolate covered pumpkins and ghosts from my post on 10/23.

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