Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Countdown to Christmas!

Good morning! I hope that you are having a great week!  I am spending the holidays with my family and I am so excited, as I mentioned this past week my family is all together for the first time in two years. 

 We have been walking, caroling, had a snowball fight or two and so many other things. We still have baking, shopping and visits with family and friends, not to mention a Christmas Eve party and a few other activities. and of course waiting for the arrival of Santa! By the time I return home I will need a holiday from my holiday.

I am going to take the rest of the week off but I wanted to wish you the happiest, and merriest Christmas. I hope that you spend the holiday surround with family and friends! Enjoy and be safe.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Silent Sunday 12-21-2014

Have a fabulous day!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Gift Books

Good morning! I am sure that most of you guys have your Christmas shopping finished, but if you are looking for a last minute gift for your family and friends here are a few fabulous books that I have read this year. 

I LOVE Garden & Gun magazine, a friend gave it to my husband years ago and each and every issue is filled to the brim with excellent articles, recipes and more that celebrate not only the history of the South, but the people, the food and the culture. 

Here is what Amazon has to say: 

Garden & Gun magazine is a great place for celebrating the life and style of the real South. This magazine brings its readers the latest in Southern culture with stunning pictures, design tips, and a sensibility that was cultivated in the grand homes and open fields of Dixie. Subscribers to Garden & Gun magazine get to read about the very latest in fashion, jewelry, and Southern art. 

A subscription to Garden & Gun magazine is a great way to show your appreciation of the real South. It will be the guide you go to for the news and trends you want, but can't get elsewhere.

As flavorful, authentic, and irresistible as the land and the people who inspire it, The Southerner's Handbook is the ultimate guide to being a Southerner (no matter where you live).

If you have read this blog for even a little while than you know I LOVE France, Paris in particular. Farm to Table French Phrasebook: Master the Culture, Language and Savoir Faire of French Cuisine  is a great book for the traveler in your life! Whether it is your first trip trip to France or your 30th, this cute little guide book is filled excellent advice on navigating the markets, ordering in restaurants and getting around France. It also offers tips on etiquette, traditions, typical dishes and more. And once you return from France, it has a chapter of French recipes to try in your own home! 

Cakes are one of the things I love to to bake and A Cakes Lover's Recipe Notebook  by Jane Brocket is a beautiful book to give to people in your life that feel the same. This beautifully photographed, spiral bound book offers not only recipes and tips but spaces for you to record your own recipes whether theory are passed on from family and friends, from a magazine or even Pinterest! 

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day was an immediate bestseller and became a classic book about bread making allowing even novice cooks to make the perfect loaf of crusty bread. Seven yours later Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois have revised and updated the is book writing The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day! This new book is filled with more than thirty new and mouthwatering recipes and offers expanded technique, tips and answers to frequently asked reader questions!

Dog-Gone Good Cuisine  by Gayle Pruitt is a great cook book for both humans and dogs, filled with color photographs of rescue dogs. This book contains over 100 corn, sugar, soy and gluten free recipes that will help you and man's best friend healthy and delicious meals.

Her name was Elsa Schiaparelli and she was know as the Queen of Fashion in the twenties and thirties. This biography by Meryle Secrest offers a wonderful insight into the life of Elsa, from her wealthy and often times antic filled childhood, to her marriage to a con-man, her life as a single mother raising a polio stricken daughter and her rise to becoming "the most extraordinary fashion designer of her day."

"Dare to be different" Schiaparelli advised women and she certainly lived her life in that respect, she created luxurious, eccentric and sexy clothing, often times using fabrics that had never bee used before, like rayon, latex, and velvets. She also collaborated with some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, Jean Schlumberger, Salvador Dali, Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon and Jean Coctea to name just a few on products ranging from jewelry, clothing, hats perfume and more.

Although I had heard of and seen Schiaparelli's designs I was unaware of her interesting and colorful life so I found this book insightful, interesting and filled with interesting details about the world of fashion in Paris, New York, London and more! 

Do you have your shopping finished? Do you give books as gifts? If you have a few great ones to share I would love to hear about them! Also, for the past couple of weeks Pamela of the blog From the House of Edward has written several extensive book lists for kids, friends, family and more. I am hoping to receive a few that she recommended. Santa are you listening?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Snowball Cookies

Good morning! How are you and how are your Christmas preparations coming along? I do not want to alarms you but Christmas is a mere 7 days away! Can you believe it? It seems like we wait all year and then it just sneaks up on us!

Have you  been wrapping presents and baking cookies and getting all of your last minute preparations ready for the big day?  The stove has been on round the clock while I  bake delectable goodies for family and friends.

One of the cookies I always make are Snow Balls, otherwise known as Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes and probably about a hundred other names. Whatever they are called they are easy, delicious and a wonderful cookie to share with family and friends.

Snowball Cookies

1 cup of butter softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
21/2 cups powdered sugar, for coating cookies


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix butter on medium speed until creamy. Then blend in the powdered sugar and salt. Mix in vanilla extract. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and mix well, then add the flour until just combines. Stir in the nuts.

Scoop dough out 1 tablespoon at a time and roll into balls. Then place cookie balls onto baking sheets lined with parchment or Silphat baking sheets.
Bake for 16-18 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes and then place warm cookies into a zip lock bag or bowl and roll in the powdered sugar. Transfer to wire rack and once the cookie is cooled completely roll in powdered sugar again.

What are your last minute plans, parties, baking, shopping? Whatever you have planned, enjoy it! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Around the Kitchen

Good morning! I know a lot of people like to decorate their house the week before Christmas but that is not me. I like to enjoy it as long as possible so I decorate just before Thanksgiving. The first room I decorate is my kitchen and keeping room, as they are the rooms I spend the most time. 

That way, at night when I am cooking or during the day while I am baking or working 
out of my office I can enjoy my decorations and lights.

Do you decorate your kitchen, or bedrooms? Or do your keep your decorations in the living and family rooms?

I am always curious, do you change your decorations each year, or do you keep things the same more or less? I always keep the tree in my kitchen area more or less the same, I add or take away things but I love the little birds, the signs and the pine cones and acorns. 

This year the only thing I added to the tree this year were the brown glitter pine cones, everything else is the same just moved around. 

I hope that you are having a wonderful holiday season, spending time trimming trees, baking cookies, going to parties and just taking it all in. 

Have a fabulous day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Apricot Walnut Rugelach

Good morning! Just ten more days until Christmas, honestly, I am like a kid bursting with excitement. My brother, sisters, parents, husbands, boyfriends, nieces and nephew will be celebrating together along with 6 dogs and 1 cat. I am sure that at times it will be a little crazy but I know we are going to have a great time together, and since we haven't been all together in 2 years we have a lot to catch up on.

This week I am baking up a storm and rugelach is one of my favorite things to bake: not only because it is delicious but because you can change the fillings, using anything from simple jam and fruit spreads to chocolate. I make about 5 different versions of this cookie to give to family and friends with each filling tailors to their taste.

Apricot Walnut Rugelach
Recipe from Real Simple 

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cups cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 ounces cream cheese, cold, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 large egg beaten

Pulse the flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. salt in the food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until a few pea sized lumps remain. add the cream cheese and vanilla and pulse until the dough forms a ball.

Divide the dough in half and place on two sheets of plastic wrap. Shape into 1 inch thick discs. Wrap and chill until firm, 2 hours or up to two days.

Combine the walnuts, brown sugar, nutmeg and the remaining 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. of salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Working with one piece at a time roll dough on a floured surface into a 13 inch round. Top with 1/4 cup of apricot jam and sprinkle with half of the nut mixture. Cut the round into 12 equal wedges, like a pizza. Roll up each wedge starting at the outer edge. Repeat with other disc of dough, jam and walnut mixture.

Place rugelach 11/2 inches apart on 2 rimmed baking sheets topped with parchment paper or a Silphat. Brush with the egg and spring with sugar. Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes. Rotate the sheets half way through the cooking time. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Are you baking anything scrumptious this week? Do you like to bake family favorites or do you branch out into something new each year?

Whatever you are doing this week, enjoy and savor the season!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Friday Favorites from Splenderosa, Manger, A Simply Luxurious Life, Manger, Many Kitchen's and More!

Good morning and happy Friday to you! How was your week? Mine was busy and the next week will be the same.  Although, next week will be a lot of fun with holidays parties, concerts, activities and friends. This weekend I am simply going to relax and enjoy a little bit of a respite, the calm before the storm, I guess.

Bergdoff Windows Image Splenderosa

Christmas is a time of family, friends, celebration and a little bit of excess sometimes. This week Marsha from Splenderosa hosted her "By Invitation Only", link party and the theme was, "Gift Giving If Money Were No Object." It was great fun to read 15 of my favorite bloggers and their ideas  for fantasy gifts for family and friends. Be sure to check out not only Marsha's post but those of the other bloggers, they are all wonderful reads. 

Image Mange

Speaking of fantasy's, or dream vacation's, this week Mimi Thorisson of the blog Manger announced her cooking workshops in the Medoc region of France. Mimi will be offering 2, 3 and 4 day cooking workshops in her home. Doesn't this sound like a dream holiday?  Not only is Mimi an incredibly talented cook, but her knowledge and enthusiasm for the people, businesses, and culture of the Medoc region makes her the perfect ambassador. Honestly, I would love this as a gift, I think it would be like cooking with a best friend! 

The cold weather and looming snow always makes me want to hunker in and nest, to rest, relax, and snuggle up with a good book. This week, The Simply Luxurious Life posted her 2014 Top Book Picks and 2015 Agendas, excellent recommendations that I have now added to my list. 

Image Many Kitchens

For those of us who are already thinking and planning ahead to holiday meals,  Valentina of Many Kitchen's has a recipe for a spectacular looking Sunday Standing Rib Roast. I think this would be an excellent alternative to turkey or ham. 

Image London Bakes

And last but not least,  this amazing Winter Pavlova with Cranberries and Candies Rosemary, from Kathyrn of London Bakes would make a delicious  alternative to the traditional pies, cake and cookies of the holiday season. 

"The most wonderful time of the year" goes so fast that I hope you take a little time to stop and rest, relax and enjoy the season. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

15 Fabulous Christmas Wreaths and The Magical Christmas Wreath Company

Image Traditional Home

Good morning! Christmas is a mere two weeks away, can you believe it? It is the time of the year that I wait all year for and it always seems to fly by.

The Magical Christmas Wreath Company

One of the first things I like to do to get ready for the holidays is to put up my wreaths on the front and back door, that way even if my other decorating takes a few more days the house looks festive. 

Wreaths, like home decor come in many forms. There are round, square, simple, embellished, and even over the top. Some are made of greens, some boxes or bulbs.

Image Here

Today I thought I would share 15 Fabulous Wreaths that I found while perusing my favorite magazines and blogs.

Image Traditional Home

By the way,  several of the wreaths listed here are made by Paul, a fellow blogger and owner of The Magical Christmas Wreath CompanyDo you know his beautiful shop? 

Paul creates magic for every room of your home, from wreaths, to swags, to centerpieces, to candles and more. Sadly for those of us in the USA the shop is located in London, and as of now they do not have a venue in the US. But if you have friends or relatives in the UK than you could order one of these magical creations.

Call 02036517780 or visit the site The Magical Christmas Wreath HERE.

If you want to follow along with Paul's adventures visit his blog HERE.

Have a fabulous day. I hope that you find some time to enjoy the sight, and sounds of the season.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Food For The Southern Soul: Christmas Gift Ideas for the Foodie in Your Life

Good morning! I hope that you had a fabulous weekend. I baked, ate, decorated cookies,and ate some more cookies this weekend. I am happy "the most wonderful time of the year" is only once a year because I would be as big as a house. I love cookies and cookie dough even more.

I don't know about you but I always have a few people on my list that are a challenge to find gifts for and more often than not I end up either making or sending them foodie gifts. 

This year I was introduced to Food for the Southern Soul by a friend and I am excited to share all of their wonderful products because they are fantastic!

Food for the Southern Soul  was started by Jimmy and Ann Marie Haygood who turned a passion for low-country cooking into a way of life. Ann-Marie and Jimmy traded their corporate jobs for a 30 foot long barbecue rig, to launch their catering, specialty food and restaurant businesses. 

Jimmy is an award winning barbecue pit master, winning competitions across the country, and has bottled his rubs, marinades and sauces so that you can get the authentic taste at home. 

In addition to the sauces, and rubs you can also try many other low-country favorites, stone ground grits, rice, handmade benne wafers, artichoke relish and more. The Haygoods' not only barbecue but they grow their own rice, make their own cane syrup, and bottle their own sauces but they continue to  preserve the tastes and traditions of southern foods. 

If you happen to live in Charleston you can try Jimmy's an award winning barbecue at the 'Cue-osk in City Market

If you are searching for the perfect gift for the foodie in your life check out all of the wonderful items  from Food For The Southern Soul, on-line shop, everything from apple butter,  grits, rice, benne wafers, barbecue sauces, marinades, dressings, salsa's and so much more. 

Do you have a favorite "foodie" gift or regional specialty that you like to give to family and friends? If so, please share as I am sure that we can all use a few ideas.

Have a great week and enjoy the season.