Entries from December 28th, 2010

December 28, 2010

cheers to a new year | extra spicy bloody marys, rosé mimosas and lime margaritas

Cheers to another fantastic holiday season! I hope your celebrations were filled with family, friends and fun — and that your glass stayed filled to the top, too. :) As you get ready for the new year, be it by celebrating with a big night out on the town or a cozy night in, make sure to bust out the nice stemware and mix yourself a tasty drink. I like the bright, cheerful colors of classic bloody marys, rosé mimosas and lime margaritas; plus, those reds, greens and golden orange hues are festive and fun. Just be sure to keep some carpet cleaner handy in case you spill :)

extra spicy bloody mary

{Get your pals together for a bloody mary party! These "healthy" cocktails are fun to make; just raid your spice rack and add hot, salty spices to your tomato juice concoction. Photo By TAZPhotos/Courtesy Flickr}

Try this recipe for the perfect bloody mary, courtesy Food Network. I’ve never tried a bloody mary with red wine in it, but it could be an interesting mix!

rose mimosa

{I love sipping the bubbly. What's great about making mimosas is you don't have to invest in an expensive bottle of champagne to guarantee a good taste — a $10 bottle will do! I like to use rosé sparkling wine to add a pinker hue to my drink. Photo By ReeseCLloyd/Courtesy Flickr}

Want a more vividly colored mimosa? Besides using rosé sparkling wine or rosé champagne, try adding a splash of blood orange juice instead of plain old OJ. Follow this simple recipe for blood orange mimosas courtesy Food Network.

margarita with lemon and lime

{I love a simple margarita with fresh lime juice, salt and a nice tequila (Dos Lunas is a favorite). Garnish with lemon and lime wedges for a splash of color (and a little help with the tequila shots to come...). Photo By terselil/Courtesy Flickr}

I think it’s funny to offer a recipe for a margarita — they’re pretty simple, right? — but after sifting through all the crazy variations on this classic cocktail, I finally decided on Ina Garten’s real margaritas. Vámonos!

What’s going to be your first cocktail of the new year?

December 21, 2010

4 days until christmas | domaine carneros sparkling wine cocktails

Back in May, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit California wine country. Since that trip, I’ve been turned on to Domaine Carneros sparkling wine (sometimes incorrectly called champagne — that comes from France, not Cali!). I spent some time at the Domaine Carneros chateau and got the opportunity to meet Eileen Crane, president and founding winemaker.

eileen crane domaine carneros

{Eileen Crane, founding winemaker and president of Domaine Carneros, has been making wine for more than 30 years. Photo Courtesy Domaine Carneros}

Eileen has been called “Napa’s Most Powerful Woman” by Forbes and carries herself with such sophistication and elegance that I couldn’t help but be awestruck with her. I had to know: What does Napa’s most powerful woman serve at her holiday happy hours?

Eileen was sweet enough to share some holiday entertaining recipes and a little inspiration with me. “Cocktail parties are all about festive drinks, spirited toasts, great bites and creating an atmosphere that makes everyone feel sexy,” she says. “Madame Pompadour once said ‘Champagne is the only wine a woman can drink and remain beautiful’ and I agree, so sparkling wine is the base of every cocktail I serve. Bubbles create instant holiday spirit and are a cheerful way to celebrate, all season long.”

Cheers to that. Now here’s an idea: Buy two bottles of Domaine Carneros sparkling wine; one for you, and one for a friend. Tie a beautiful raffia bow and attach a handwritten cocktail recipe around the bottle’s neck and serve your best friend who needs a break one of these delicious sparkling wine cocktails.

sparkling wine and champagne cocktails

{Tis the season for colorful bubbly cocktails! Photo By Ravi Dhingra/Courtesy Flickr}

Harvest Moon
4 1/2 ounces chilled Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé
3/4 ounce Sonoma Sparkler Raspberry
3/4 ounce St. George Raspberry Liquer
1/4 ounce St. George Framboise
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Add all ingredients except the Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé to a mixing glass and give them a quick stir to mix. Add enough ice to fill the mixing glass to the top, shake for 5 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass. Carefully pour the Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé into the glass and then very gently stir to mix. Drop a very thin slice of persimmon on top of the drink and sprinkle with nutmeg and sugar to garnish.

Golden Ginger
4 ounces Domaine Carneros Vintage Brut
1 crystallized sugar cube
2 drops Angostura Bitters
Sprig of mint

Soak crystallized ginger cube with bitters. Fill a tall flute with chilled Domaine Carneros Vintage Brut. Top glass with a sprig of fresh mint.

Find more ideas for champagne and sparkling wine cocktails.

December 20, 2010

5 days until christmas | five solid 14k gold rings stacking set

Sometime in the past few years, I’ve rekindled my love for gold. Before, I would simply pass over gold even though chunky, gaudy gold jewelry screamed for my attention. I preferred understated silver or white gold jewelry in beautiful, delicate cuts that commanded sparkle and shine through beautiful reflections of light.

Now, gold has made a comeback to my jewelry collection. Thin slivers of fine gold flirtatiously flicker and contrast nicely with all skin tones — even in winter. While I tend to stay away from overly gaudy gold pieces, I like the idea of statement jewelry that has a little thickness to it. That’s why I absolutely adore these five solid 14 karat gold rings in a stacking set.

5 solid 14k gold rings stacking set etsy

{Wear these five solid 14 karat gold rings on one finger, or spread them out on several fingers. Or, string them on a simple chain and wear them around your neck. Photo By Dalkullan Jewelry/Courtesy Etsy}

I like that just by stacking five thin gold rings, you get the same effect as wearing one chunky gold ring — but with more intricate lines of detail and more radiance reflecting from every hand-textured and hammered edge. These beautiful gold stacking rings are available for $399 on Etsy from an independent jewelry artisan. Other less expensive stacking gold ring sets exist, but this was the most striking set I found as I searched Etsy. Plus, I was particularly impressed with Dalkullan Jewelry’s simplistic yet chic collection of original, handcrafted jewelry.

Do you like stacking rings? What do you think of gold — has it made a comeback in your jewelry collection, or did it never leave? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think about these five golden rings!

December 19, 2010

6 days until christmas | illume monogram votive candles

I have a candle collection almost large enough to rival my lip balm collection. From chunky jars of traditional apple spice candles to funky jars of goji berry-scented candles, my candle collection tends to clutter my nightstands, bookcase and bathroom counter. I’ve managed to pare down my collection a bit by burning them more (and storing out-of-season scents), but one small, cute candle that adorns my bathroom vanity — right next to my cosmetics — is Illume’s Monogram K Votive Candle.

Illume Monogram K Votive Candle

{I like the flirty font of my Illume Monogram K Candle. Photo Courtesy Illume}

My Illume Monogram K candle smells of red cedar with hints of mandarin and vanilla — an interesting mix, and not one I would have readily chosen myself had my initial not be all over this candle. These sweet votives would make a perfect stocking stuffer, hostess gift or special treat for your own home office or vanity. At $10 a pop and 20 hours burn time, it’s a budget-friendly purchase that you can reuse once the candle wax burns away; keep the votive as a tealight holder, or store cute little decorative items in it, such as buttons, rings, charms or anything else small enough to fit inside this shot glass-sized jar.

If you’re lucky enough to have a short name or nickname, stock up on a few of these candles and spell out your name to add a little personality to your workspace, bathroom or wherever you choose to display your Illume Monogram Votive Candles.

Illume Monogram K CandleIllume Monogram I CandleIllume Monogram M Candle

If you want to get some of these cute candles for this holiday season, hurry! The final day for 2-day shipping is this Wednesday, December 22 at 12 noon CST.

Do you have any monogrammed items? What do you think of this inexpensive option for monogramming and adding a personal touch in your home? Leave me a comment and let me know!

December 18, 2010

7 days until christmas | smock peacock boxed letterpress folded cards

Christmas is a week away! While you’re out finalizing your Christmas shopping this Super Saturday, be a little bit proactive (and take advantage of the sales) by scooping up some beautiful stationery so you’ll be ready to write those thank you cards after the holidays.

At the beginning of 2010, I resolved to write more letters, send more “just because” cards and just support the U.S. Postal Service in general. :) This was a fantastic resolution for me because collecting beautiful stationery is a guilty pleasure of mine — perhaps it’s the old-fashioned Southerner in me, but I love taking a moment to sit down, write a sweet note and send it on to my friends, knowing that they will be surprised to find a handwritten card or letter in the mail.

Some of my favorite, most special stationery is from Smock, a stationery company in upstate New York that specializes in letterpress stationery on bamboo paper. Smock’s stunning stationery features whimsical designs, bright colors and soft paper that are attention-grabbing from the moment you open the textured envelope. I particularly adore Smock’s peacock letterpress thank you cards — those feathers, rich colors and big ol’ peacock eyes are just charming.

smock letterpress peacock thank you card

{I love how this card is strong yet feminine — and a little bit goofy. Photo Courtesy Smock}

Smock is only available at fine stationery stores throughout the country, so it may be difficult for some of us to access these cards on a whim. But that idea — just grabbing whatever’s available — is completely opposite of what slowing down and taking the time to find the perfect card and write the perfect thank you note is all about. Plan a little bit. Find some stationery that suits your personality (and your budget). You want your friends to keep your cards in a special place (I keep mine in a shoebox!) and revisit them year after year.

Do you send handwritten notes? Why or why not?

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