Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Looking For A Little Holiday Decor?

You know how I love to decorate for the holidays.  Here are some little beauties I have my eye on...



I love the whole set (and would probably add some fake snow on the ground for effect).  
Mirrored Mirth Trees  $18-$68
Husband adores cardinals.  I would so love to surprise him with this bedding one day.

Cardinal Duvet Cover & Sham  $22.99-$78.99 (on sale)
I love how inexpensive and kind of kitchy these are, and the effect of a whole set on a table (as pictured below) is just lovely and festive.

Elf Candle Holders  $5.95 (on sale)
OK, this is kind of pricey for a throw pillow in my house (Petunia and Harriet are impossible to keep off of the couch, thus it would become covered in dog hair), but I love the pug needlepoint nonetheless.  I am also really into red tartan right now.


Red Tartan Pillow Collection  $129-$139
Silver and gold colored decor is so very festive.  Plus, I love pretty much anything with a reindeer on it.

Pressed Tin Floral Reindeer  $19.50- $109
I adore these appetizer plates from CB2.   Great conversation pieces for your holiday party and so inexpensive.  

Oliver Peppermint Stick Appetizer Plate  $2.95

Very modern looking.  This would be perfect for any mantle.  


Ornament Tree  $24.95- $49.95

Another beautiful holiday throw pillow I can only dream about, because I live with 3 four-legged couch terrors.  A girl can dream though, right?

Partridge 12" Pillow  $26.95
I have been wanting to put a leg lamp in my window for years for Christmas!  My neighbors would either think we were hilarious or weird (if they have never seen A Christmas Story).  


Leg Lamp  $50

The Floridian in me thinks this doormat is perfection.   Growing up, this was Christmas.
Delightful Doormat - Christmas Palm Tree  $34

OK, I bet you didn't know I was Jewish.  Really, I am (albeit the non-religious, non-practicing kind).  So I try to mix in a little bit of Hanukkah with my Christmas decor.  I love all things Jonathan Adler, and this menorah is just stunning.

Jonathan Adler Menorah, Peacock  $96 (on sale)

Do you decorate the inside of your house for the holidays?  Anything you have been stalking, just waiting for the perfect sale?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tis' the Season to be Freezin'

I know I have said it before, but winter and I are not friends.  Most of the time, we aren't really even on speaking terms.  I grew up in South Florida, and have never quite adjusted to any weather below 70 degrees.  I have lived in Northern California for 10 years now (and in Atlanta for 2 years before that), yet I still can't seem to acclimate.  While I have learned to embrace the milder weather of fall, the cold winds that come with the Northern California winter are much less than awesome.  When accompanied with the time change (which means it is dark by 5pm now) I am one unhappy Erin.  So I need to look towards the parts of the season that I can embrace with open arms.  Here they are.


1) Starbucks:  As soon as I see the bright red cups, I know that the winter flavors are here.  Give me a tall non-fat peppermint mocha (with whip) and a piece of gingerbread, and I will be happy for at least the next few hours.


2) A break from yard work:  Yes, I do love our garden (and all of the fresh food we harvest) but it is nice to have an excuse to not need to be outside, weeding and planting, just for a little while.  We usually plant our garlic and onions in mid-October, and we leave them alone until late spring, after the rainy cold season.

OK, this is our actual last pepper harvest of the season
3) This is the view from our house:  The foliage is beautiful.  There are bright yellows, reds, and oranges everywhere.  Soon, everything will be bare, but it is a pretty show that nature puts on in the meantime. 



4) Weird products: I am a sucker for trying new things.  Chocolate wine?  Sign me up.  Stop into Trader Joe's or Crate and Barrel this time of year and there is enough unusual junk food to satisfy the savage beast.  I intend to try most of it.  At least the stuff that doesn't contain dried fruit.  


5) Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years:  OK, so Thanksgiving isn't technically in the winter, but it is what I consider a gateway holiday.  It means gathering with friends and family and eating.  Which leads to a holiday that involves exchanging gifts.  Which leads to a holiday that stars champagne.  See where I am going here?

6) Shopping: There are so many sales during this time of the year, and almost everyone offers free shipping at one time or another.  Did I mention all the free gifts with purchase?  Yes, please!  Then there are the after Christmas sales, yowza!

7)  Winter accessories: Cute gloves, hats, scarves, and tights.  Taking lemons (cold weather) and making lemonade (looking cute while shivering).

8)  The dogs:  They love to snuggle this time of year.  It is hard to be cold when there is a warm puppy happily sleeping on your lap.

9) Decorating:  If you were around here in October, you saw how I love to decorate for Halloween.  Christmas is no different.  Yes, there will be pictures.

10)  Comfort(able) clothing:  I admit, it is nice to laze around the house in sweatpants, a hoodie, and Uggs. There is usually a fire involved as well.  If I am going to eat all the unusual junk food, I need elastic waisted pants, right?

11)  Changing to flannel sheets:  Is there anything nicer to sleep on?

12) The Superbowl:  Especially when it is a team I care about.

13) A much needed break from TV: Speaking of TV, Gone With The Wind seems to be on a lot during this time of year, which keeps me entertained for at least 4 hours.

14) Christmas cards:  I love sending them as much as I love receiving them.

15)  Just a little bit of snow:  Yes, I know this contradicts everything I said about not liking the cold, but there is something magical about snow.  Maybe it is because the first time I ever saw snow, I was 24 years old.  As long as I don't have to live in it or drive in it, I love ti for short periods of time.  

OK, your turn.  What are your favorite parts of winter?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Last Cranberry Sauce Recipe You Will EVER Need!


I was raised on canned cranberry sauce.  You know, the kind that keeps the shape of the can long after it has been plated and featured as a colorful side for your Thanksgiving meal.  In all fairness, I did not know how easy it was to make from scratch.  Then one of my girlfriends shared this recipe with me, and I have never looked back.  This Cranberry Pear Sauce is what I make during the holiday season, and I promise you that if you give this a try, you will NEVER want anything else.  Slightly tart and mildly sweet, it is the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving meal.


Ingredients:
3/4 cup of water
1 cup sugar
12 oz bag of fresh cranberries (I am sure frozen would work just as well)
2 cored and peeled pears (of your choosing), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1tbsp grated fresh ginger, remove skin
1/4 tsp cinnamon


Trust me, doing all of the preparations first (or in cooking terms, your mis en place) will make this process run smoothly .  The first thing I do is grate my ginger.  Please use fresh ginger.  It is very inexpensive, and a little bit goes a long way.  The extra keeps very well in the freezer for the next time you need it.  I only peel the part I am going to use, and then stick it back in the freezer when I am done.  


Next, I peel and cut up my pears.  It doesn't matter what kind of pears you use.  I just pick what seems to be the ripest and the freshest.  Now you are prepared to to cook.


Add the water, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger to a pot and bring to a boil.


Add the pears and cranberries, and return to a boil.  You will hear the neatest popping sounds coming  from the cranberries, and you know you are right on track.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes.   


Cool to room temperature or make the day before.  If you make the day before, take it out of the fridge an hour before dinner and serve at room temperature.  

This really is the easiest recipe to make (it takes about 10 -15 minutes total), and your friends and family will be impressed.  This would also go well on top of ice cream or waffles, or even stuffed in crepes.  It really is that good.  If you make this recipe, I would love to hear for you.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 25, 2011

I Ate Too Much

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a day for me to dress up in a cute outfit, spend time with family and friends, and stuff myself silly.  That means that today is a day to laze around the house and eat leftovers, while wearing elastic waisted sweatpants. Happy weekend, everyone!

Even Petunia needs to recover from a little too much Thanksgiving  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is definitely a time for us to sit back and consider all of the things we have to be thankful for in life.  I am so very grateful for wonderful friends and family, three wagging tails that greet me when I come home every day, a job I really like, health, warm food on the table, and a roof over my head.  It is so easy to get caught up in all of the things we want and don't have, that we forget to appreciate all the things that make our life wonderful exactly how it is.  I hope you each take a moment today to think about all of the good things and show gratitude to all of the special people in your life.  

A scene from my mantle

If you comment today, I would love to hear about what you are grateful for right at this moment, no matter how big or small (you know how I love audience participation).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sephora Beauty Haul

It happens to me this time every year.  Sephora starts tempting me with 20% off deals, and I am unable to resist.  In the past few weeks, there has been both a Friends and Family sale (which was a one time use only code this year, very disappointing) and a VIB member 20% off sale, which left me unable to resist to urge to try a few things out.

One thing you should know about me, I love camo.  The colors here are so pretty, and this bag would make a cute clutch, as well as a fantastic make-up bag.  It is big enough to hold brushes too.  

Charlotte Ronson Camo Clutch Makeup Bag  $28

I love Stila smudge pots.  If you use them as well, I recommend making sure you seal it tightly when you close it.  If you don't, it will dry out and become kind of cakey.  You will then be repurchasing it at the next Sephora 20% off sale.  

Stila Smudge Pots Brown  $20
If you read my blog regularly, you know I have been wanting this perfume.  It is my current daily scent.  Props to you, Jennifer Aniston.

Jennifer Aniston Perfume  $39
I am a big fan of Fresh's Sugar Lip Treatment.  It makes my lips feel very soothed and conditioned during the winter months.  I jumped at the chance to try the lip polish and body cream.  The cute red bag is a bonus.

Fresh Sugar Lust Set  $28
 I love a chance to try out different lip products.  This is a great mix of glosses, stains, sticks, and polishes, which I am sure will keep me busy through the holidays.  

Sephora Favorites Give Me Some Lip  $25
 I read about this product in a magazine somewhere, and decided to give it a shot.  It is supposed to help fight free radicals and support the body's natural detoxification process.  It is also supposed to help promote daily water consumption recommendations.  Not sure if it does any of that, but it has great reviews (from the people who didn't think the taste was "yucky").

Dr. Brandt Detoxifying Anti-Oxidant Water Booster - Goji and Maqui  $39
I love a chance to try out a bunch of different mascaras.  I am always hoping to find a new favorite.

Sephora Favorites Give Me Some Lash  $30

This was a free Beauty Insider gift.  I am not exactly sure what the passport holder is supposed to be for, but it does have slots for all of the other contents in the package (mascara, gloss, and lip stick).  I have really enjoyed Buxom products in the past, and I am hoping this will be just as fabulous.  


Did you buy anything at any of the Sephora sales?  Any "must have" items you have discovered?  Anything you are just dying to try?  Any duds you have discovered?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winning!

I have been a very lucky lady, recently.  

Tina, over at (FL) Girl With a New Life recently hosted a giveaway, and I won.  The prize was a copy of Chasing Harry Winston, which has been on my list of books I want to read for a long time.  Definitely expect a review to come early next year.  Thanks again, Tina!



Then, I won another Lucky Giveaway (for the others, see here and here).  Do you ever enter?  Have you ever won anything?  It is definitely worth a shot.



The prize was this Sibu Beauty Total Package.  Honestly, I had never heard of this company until I won this prize, and I am excited to test it out.  Included in the package was:  Cellular Support with Omega 7 (a dietary supplement made with sea buckhorn oil), Repair and Protect (a daytime facial cream), Replenishing Night Cream (I am going to go ahead and guess that this is night cream), Seed Oil (a topical treatment for skin conditions), and Cleanse and Detox (a sea buckhorn facial soap).  

Do you use Sibu products?  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences if you do.  


Just wanted to add, I am in no away affiliated.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Burgundy Beef Stew

I was gifted The Betty Crocker Christmas cookbook many years ago.  This was the first recipe I tried, and never got to any of the others.    As you can see in my little cookbook diary below, I make this a lot during the winter.  It really warms me up inside.  I recommend using a nice Burgundy wine, and not adding in the bacon at then end.  I always bake some crescent rolls with this to make it a little more substantial.  

As always, let me know if you decide to give this recipe a whirl.  Enjoy!  


Ingredients:

6
slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2
lb beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (boneless chuck eye or bottom round roast)
1/2
cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2
cups dry red wine (I use Burgundy from Trader Joe's)
1 1/2
teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (fresh has better flavor)
1 1/4
teaspoons salt
1
teaspoon beef bouillon granules
1/4
teaspoon pepper
1
clove garlic, finely chopped
1
dried bay leaf
2
tablespoons butter or margarine
1
package (8 oz) sliced fresh mushrooms (3 cups)
4
medium onions, sliced
Chopped fresh parsley, if desired (I always skip this part)

Directions:
In 4-quart Dutch oven, cook bacon over low heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp; remove bacon with slotted spoon. Refrigerate bacon

Coat beef with flour. Cook beef in bacon drippings over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until brown. Drain excess fat from Dutch oven.

Add wine and just enough water to cover beef in Dutch oven. Stir in thyme, salt, bouillon granules, pepper, garlic and bay leaf. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 1 hour 30 minutes or until beef is tender.

In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook mushrooms and onions in butter, stirring frequently, until onions are tender. Stir mushroom mixture and bacon* into stew. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Garnish stew with parsley.

*Note, I do not put the bacon in at the end.  I think it adds a weird, unnecessary texture.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

I love The Office.  It has been set to record on my DVR for years.  Kelly Kapoor, played by Mindy Kaling,  is one of my favorite characters.  So when I heard she had written a book, I realized two thing right away.  The first was that her stories were going to be hilarious.  The second was that I had to download it immediately.

This book is about Mindy's life so far (she is only 32 years old).  Is contains a series of short essays regarding different scenes from her life, mixed in with lists about things she finds important (such as the duties of a best friend).  Her storytelling is quirky and so funny.  She does go into detail about her time at Dartmouth, her breakthrough play Matt and Ben (a fictional account of Matt Damon's and Ben Affleck's rise to fame, which I had no idea existed until this book), and how she landed her gig at The Office, as well as what it is like to work on a tv show.  If you are a fan, you will find this all very interesting.  Oh yes, and did I mention that you will laugh?

via

I absolutely adored this book.  It was a quick read and very hard to put down.  I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.  I actually started listening to it over again after I finished it the first time, because I enjoyed her stories so much.  I have to admit that I did have a hard time separating Mindy from the character, Kelly, that she plays, even though she goes through great pains to explain all of the ways that they are different.  From the stories I read, it seemed that they were also quite similar.  That's just my opinion.  Give this book a read, and let me know what you think.  

Next up, The Help, and this is a big book.  It might take me a while (but what I have read so far is just magical).  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Confession, I am cold when it is 70 degrees out.  So even though I live in a place where it doesn't normally snow, I still dread the cold days of winter.  Finding cute winter clothing is one of the few pleasures I have during the months that it gets dark out at 5:00pm.  Yep, cute clothing and Mexican Hot Chocolate.  What, you have never tried it?  I insist you run out to the store now, and pick some up.  It will change your life.  I'll wait.  When you get back, come take a look at some of my current winter accessory favorites.

What do you love shopping for most during the winter months?



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Life Lately (in Pictures)

I have a mish mosh of pictures to share with you from the past few weeks.  These are all things that are currently making me happy.  

Cupcakes from Icing of the Cupcake (a must try in you are ever in the Sacramento area).


Harriet and Tuna saying goodbye to their pool for the winter.


Don't forget about Meatball.


Garden gnomes from my local hardware store.  Very Sons of Anarchy.


A hobby that husband and I do together, spending time at the shooting range.  Not something I was sure about sharing on my blog, but it is a part of my life (and I don't really want to keep secrets from you guys).


A bocce outing we had at work at this fun place.  Have you ever played?  If not, I highly recommend giving it a try.  No actual athletic ability is required, and you will laugh a lot.


The biggest, most pregnant preying mantis I have ever seen.  She was hanging out on the giant plastic pumpkin I had outside of my front door.


A fantastic pic of the Trasnamerica Pyramid that I took while sitting in city traffic.


My new favorite nail combination: Essie's Power Clutch with a topcoat of  OPI for Sephora 's Flurry Up.


A little bone chewing before bed time.


An unexpected package of goodies from Berlin and the UK.  I have the greatest friends.


A final pepper harvest for the fall.  Pictured: Inferno peppers, Thai peppers, pimento peppers, chocolate bells, serranos, hot fish peppers, Scotch bonnets, scorpion peppers, hot lemon peppers, and jalapeƱos.


The fire maple tree across the street. I love the changing of the leaves that comes with the chillier temperatures.


What are you loving about your life this week?

I'm Erin

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Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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