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Archive for November, 2010

I’m starting to panic … just a bit.  I didn’t get any of my Thanksgiving recipes or tablescapes posted on my blog and now the first week of December is upon us!  Where did the time go?

I did get our fall and Thanksgiving decorations put away yesterday.  Jeff and I got all of our Christmas decoration boxes down from the attic last night.  And now, I’m coming down with the flu!  Oh no!!  Let’s hope it’s really just a cold!

These pictures are from last year.  I will start posting Christmas decor ideas and recipes … hopefully soon.

Stay healthy!  And, happy decorating!

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

May the spirit of giving and being thankful continue throughout the year!

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A nice touch at Christmas is to use handmade gift tags.  These can be used on packages, hostess gifts (e.g., bottles of wine), baked goods and more.  Or, you can make a set of gift tags to give as a gift.

Tags can be much easier to make than handmade holiday cards, as they don’t need to be as involved and detailed.  In fact, in an evening watching two television shows, I made several dozen tags.  This is also a fun project to do with your kids!

Materials & Tools:

  • Your choice of Christmas papers (cardstock, scrapbooking papers)
  • Punches and or rubber stamps (and ink pads, if using stamps)
  • Scissors, Hole punch, paper cutters
  • Scrapbooking tape and/or glue
  • Embellishments — jewels, stickers, buttons
  • Ribbons

Here are a few of my favorite holiday punches.

I love the 2 inch circle and scalloped circle paper punches by EK.  I use them all year round.  This season, I bought the Martha Stewart holly and snowflake punches.

Any time you purchase something at Michael’s Craft Store, they give you a 40% off 1-item coupon with your receipt.  And, at our local fabric store, they often have the EK and Fiskar paper crafting products on sale at 30 or 40% off.

I went to a StampIn Up party several years ago and bought some of these Christmas rubber stamps.

I always browse the $1 bin at Michael’s.  In fact, the Peace stamp (above) is from the $1 bin.

There are all kinds of embellishments available.  I always check the 99 cent section of Target’s scrapbooking aisle, as well as the Target and Michael’s $1 bins.  I stock up when I find great crafting supplies.

Directions:

1.  The directions for making gift tags vary depending upon the type of tag you choose to make.  The first step is to decide the shape and color scheme (by selecting the papers).

2.  Cut out the background shape.  If layering, cut out or punch each layer.

3.  Using glue or scrapbook tape, assemble the tag.

4.  Embellish with punch outs, inked rubber stamps, jewels and other desired items.

5.  Punch hole 1/8 to 1/4 inch from edge of tag.  Attach ribbon.

Note: I stamp many of my gift tags with a To:  From: stamp.  If the front of the tag doesn’t allow room, I use the To:  From: stamp on the back.  But, I also leave some blank, especially larger gift tags, as it allows the giver to include a handwritten note.

When I make a tag that I really like, I usually make several of the same right then.  It seems to be more efficient since you have all the materials right there.

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When I was in Seattle, my sister and I went to the Impress store (rubber stamp and craft store) in University Village.  They had so many beautiful cards and tags on display.  The store manager told us about the “burnishing process” where you rub ink along the card edges to create an old look.

 

We’ve been having a great time using this new technique!

I’ll use sheer brown ribbon on these gift tags.

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One of my favorite stores to visit while in Seattle is Molbak’s. It’s an extraordinary home and garden store — the largest of which I have ever seen.   During the holiday season, Molbak’s goes all out.  They convert most of the store to holiday home and garden decor.

(Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge)

While in Seattle, we went to Molbak’s on a Saturday afternoon.  My sister and her husband have a tradition of taking their kids to Molbak’s each year so they can pick out a new ornament for their tree.  We ate lunch at their cafe (yes – they have a restaurant) and spent 3 hours looking around.  I think that’s pretty amazing … with young kids and a husband … and no one complained.  We didn’t even get a chance to see the entire store.


We started off looking at ornaments.  Well … I’ve never seen such a collection of Christmas ornaments!

Christmas Ornaments

There are ornaments in every color imaginable and any theme you can think of…

They have several candy ornament displays.

Christmas Trees

And, there are Christmas trees in every section of the store decorated by theme and/or color scheme.

They even had an upside down tree … in blue and silver.

Christmas Home Decor

The store has many decorations for the home — for both indoor and outdoor.

 

Garden Store

The day we were at Molbak’s, they had a special displays of pointsettas.  I have never seen so many different varieties of pointsettas!

And, there were beautiful hydrangeas everywhere. I wish I could have brought them back on the plane with me!

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I just returned from spending a week in Seattle visiting my sister and her family.  It was so nice to have a week of crisp, fall weather!  The day I left Southern California it was 97 degrees!!!

I love spending time in Seattle.  Besides getting quality time with my sister, nephew and niece — it’s a beautiful place to visit.  And fall, is my favorite time in Seattle, as the fall folliage is spectacular!  I can’t think of another place I have visited that has more diverse and beautiful plant life.

And for foodies, Seattle is probably the best town to visit.  They have access to incredible local produce and organic foods.  You can find every ethnic food type, and so many of the restaurants are small, quaint, neighborhood places.

I think the Microsoft money has been instrumental in making available so many wonderful food choices.  While I was in Seattle, I had Japanese, Italian, Vietnamese and seafood.

We had lunch at Serious Pie (a Tom Douglas restaurant in downtown Seattle) the day I flew in.  My sister and I had a Kale Salad and Chanterelle Pizza that were both to die for …

And then my sister (being the dessert queen that she is) ordered a piece of Coconut Cream pie from Dahlia’s Bakery (around the corner).  It was the best coconut cream pie I have ever tasted!!!  It’s a good thing we worked out every day I was there!

The kale salad we had was so delicious, that we asked our waitress for the recipe.  On Saturday, we headed to the University District Farmer’s Market to buy some fresh kale to make the salad ourselves.

Oh how I wish our farmer’s markets had even half of the produce that the Seattle farmer’s markets have.  I could have spent hours at the farmer’s market.

















I was able to catch the last of the fall leaves (before the rains).  The tree below is across the street from my sister’s house.

We took my sister’s puppy on a walk in her neighborhood of Laurelhurst.  She lives near the University of Washington.  I took so many pictures ….

Isn’t it hard to believe that these purple berries are real?   My sis and her kids thought I was crazy for taking so many pictures. 

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I needed to take an appetizer to a dinner party over the weekend.  A friend suggested that I try one the appetizers in the new issue of Bon Appetit.  The Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Figs sounded delicious, so I decided to make them.

We were not disappointed!  The sweetness of the fig with the salty pancetta was a great flavor combination.  I will definitely make these again!

I was able to purchase most of the ingredients at Trader Joe’s, but ended up going to Gelson’s for fresh figs and fig preserves.  (In late October, figs are just about at the end of their season).

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Figs

Makes 12

12 thin Pancetta slices

12 Arugula leaves

12 tsp. soft, fresh Goat Cheese

Fig jam or preserves

6 fresh Figs (You can substitute 6 plump dried Mission figs or 12 small fresh persimmon wedges)

Chopped fresh thyme

Fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place pancetta in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes and transfer to platter.

2.  Top each slice with 1 arugula leaf, 1 teaspoon of goat cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of jam.

3.  Depending on the size of your figs, top with 1/2 a fig.  (The figs I purchased were large, so I used 1/6 of a fig per appetizer).  Sprinkle with thyme and freshly ground pepper.

NOTES:

  • By mistake, I used Prosciutto instead of Pancetta.   I simply read the recipe and translated in my mind prosciutto.  Since the prosciutto was very thin (Volpi brand from TJ’s), the appetizers were a bit fragile to transport.  If you need a portable appetizer, you need to stick to the recipe and use pancetta (thicker cut).
  • If you can’t find pancetta, prosciutto does work just fine.  With the Volpi brand of prosciutto, I cut each slice into 3 pieces before placing them on the baking sheet.  This was a great size for the appetizers.  (One package of Volpi prosciutto made 18 appetizers).
  • You may need to get Fig preserves at a specialty store.

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For years I have collected vintage or antique-like glass ornaments.  Just when the opportunity presents itself at flea markets, antique shows or boutiques.  I am by no means a die hard collector.

And each Christmas, I display the vintage glass ornaments in crystal or silver bowls (or hang them by ribbons) in various places in our home.


For the past couple of years, I have wanted to decorate a tree with all vintage-only ornaments, but I haven’t had enough ornaments to do a tree justice.  But, this year I think I will — thanks to a GREAT find!

In the past month or so, I have come across Shiny Brite Ornaments by Christopher Radko at places like Home Goods, Marshals, Roger’s Gardens and boutiques.  These are bright colored glass ornaments that look like the Shiny Brite ornaments from the 40s and 50s.  You may remember your parents or grandparents having these ornaments?  I certainly remember the red and green Shiny Brite boxes from childhood.

Finding boxes of these ornaments at Homegoods (at bargain prices) will allow me to have enough ornaments for a tree this year — by mixing new with old.  And, I was lucky to find some glass bead garland and some other cute vintage-looking ornaments.  Can’t wait to decorate for Christmas!!!!

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