Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Uncommon Stocking Stuffers & A Giveaway

In search of the perfect, yet uncommon gift for that special someone?  Here are some uncommon stocking stuffers I sought out for my family and friends...
Deluxe empanada fork.
(Or in my case, pierogi fork).  My Christmas kitchen pick!  My husband's side of the family is Polish and pierogis, galumki (stuffed cabbage), and kapusta (sauerkraut) are the staple of Christmas dinner when we celebrate with his family.  This fork is ideal since it crimps the edges of empanadas, pierogis, and piroshkys alike!  
For my husband, who appreciates the value of fresh herbs, especially as we've sadly tossed a few recent bunches of cilantro after they turned slimy in their plastic bag.  This baby allows herbs to keep their stems immersed in water for hydration, helping retain the true flavors and textures needed for cooking.  
For that friend (or sister…) who soaks up all the oil and vinegar when you're out to eat.  Now she can replicate restaurant quality infused oils at home to serve with freshly baked (er…bought) bread!   Bonus: no pan, sautéing, or clean up required!
For that friend channeling their inner Julia Child or Ina Garten, bringing the best of Barefoot Contessa into your own kitchen.  Because who doesn't love butter…am I right?
For my mom, who'd always prefer lemon water over ice if it was available.  These little guys would definitely add a little pep to summertime lemonade or iced tea.  Meyer lemon ice anyone?

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Today's giveaway is from Uncommon Goods, the shop where you can find any of these fabulous kitchen items featured above.   

All of these Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers featured can be found at Uncommon Goods, based out of Brooklyn, New York.  Most of the products available Uncommon Goods are made in the USA, half are handmade, and and one third are recycled and/or upcycled materials.  Part of their company mission is a great respect for the integrity of the creative individual and a responsibility to impact the world in a positive way.  Also, $1 of any purchases are donated to a non-profit of your choice.  Since Uncommon Goods' founding in 1999, their Better to Give program has donated just shy of $1,000,000!

Today they're offering a $25 gift card.  TO ENTER: visit Uncommon Goods and leave a comment below stating your favorite item.  Here's a selection of gifts under $50! A winner will be chosen at random NEXT Sunday.  Good luck! 

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* Thank you to Uncommon Goods for sponsoring this post.  And thank you for supporting the companies that support this blog.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Movie Night: Inside Out

Normally, I wait to see animated movies once they've been released to DVD, especially with movies being so spendy these days (anyone remember the $3 matinee??)  However, this new Pixar movie, Inside Out looks like it might be theater-worthy.  I laughed out loud watching this preview!  It comes out Summer 2015.  What do you think?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Home Alone at the Symphony

Is watching Home Alone one of your holiday traditions?  Even years later, this movie reminds me of Christmas, the music, the cheeky one-liners, "ya filthy animal," and all.  Here's a new way to see a holiday oldie but goodie,  watch Home Alone while the San Francisco symphony performs the accompanying score.  Here's a preview…

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Weeknight Baking: Ginger Pear Skillet Cake

I may have found my favorite new holiday dessert - and surprise, it doesn't contain a hint a peppermint! For my annual girls Christmas get-together, I made this Ginger Pear Skillet Cake.  I had good intentions to start baking right after work, but after dinner, R's bedtime routine, a show, and my daily blog roll, suddenly it was 9:00.  So, rather than lay my head to sleep around 9:30 per usual, I channeled my inner Martha-Stewart-elf and baked.  Thankfully my first attempt was a success.  

This cake is quite dense, but the ginger-clove-nutmeggy yumminess is palatable and makes your kitchen smell divine!   First, I wasn't able to scrounge up our trusty old skillet, probably still in some unmarked box somewhere in our new house, but a pie pan worked just fine.  Second, the recipe calls for fresh ginger, which I rarely have on hand, so I just added a few dashes more of powdered ginger, seemed to do the trick.  Last, the recipe claims 60 minutes for baking - which was not the case for me, closer to 1:15 or 1:20 (and my oven runs hot).  I did cover with foil for the last 20 or so minutes as to not scorch the pear topping.  I used Bosc pears per the recipe's suggestion, and they held up nicely  atop the finished product.  My friends seemed to like it and even asked for the recipe which is always a good sign, right?  

Happy eating!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Decor

This year, now that we are settled in our new, cozy home, Christmas decorating is so much more meaningful and exciting!  Last year, we had just moved into a condo as a way station between selling our previous house and moving into a new home.  In the midst of unpacking, organizing, and caring for a 3-month old, I was reluctant to buy hang decorations for fear of putting unwanted holes in the walls, but now, my decorating enthusiasm is palpable!  Here are some of my favorite decorations for 2014.
map of the North Pole postcards by Rifle Paper Co.
print from how the grinch stole christmas

What Christmas decor are you eyeing this season?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fall Favorites: TJ's dark chocolate covered peppermint Joe Joe's

Have you had these?  Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered peppermint Joe Joe's.  It's all the flavors of Christmas wrapped up in one delicious chocolatey-pepperminty bite.  As I was searching for images of this coveted cookie, I even spied someone selling them on Amazon!  Talk about marking up a holiday product!  This is one of my favorite store bought cookies of the season, now let's see if any are left on the shelf at my next grocery adventure...


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Giraffes in Danger

A news article popped up on my Facebook feed the other day, and I can't seem to get it out of my mind, the title read "Giraffes in Danger of Extinction."  As a result of poaching and habitat loss, giraffe populations across Africa are dropping at a rapid rate.  They called it "a silent extinction," stating "numbers have gone down from 140,000 to fewer than 80,000 today."  Isn't that terrible?  According to the article, poaching is a significant problem, as a giraffe is a relatively easy kill to hunters, and can yield a substantial amount of meat and resources to local tribes.

I have always regarded giraffes as beautiful, majestic animals.  The hopeful travel bug in me has always imagined that one day I'll Africa, and have the opportunity to see a giraffe in its natural habitat.  I sincerely hope my family and I have will still have that opportunity years from now.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Cards Are Here!

Tis the season for...holiday cards!  I don't know about you, but I'm taking full advantage of the Cyber Monday deals and steals over at Tiny Prints - 40% off holiday cards, using the code CYBER40 through 12/2. And, if you are up late tonight, add the code FLASH1202 and you'll save an extra 10% on your order. Sweet! I am thankful that in an age when everything is becoming digital, people still find the time to craft and mail out holiday cards.  It makes me happy.  Here are some of my favorites

For our friends and family - I guess you'll just have to wait and see which one we selected for our 2014 holiday cards when the mail arrives!

cards c/o tinyprints

Quote of the Week

Fall Favorites: Pantry Spice Candle

With December upon us, and in the interest of matching the season, "fall favorites" will become "winter favorites." Yes, I know, technically it's still fall, but it's frigid and icy here and Christmas lights are sprouting up by the minute, so we're calling it Winter!

This Yankee Candle, Simply Home edition in the scent "pantry spice," is all of my favorite fall scents wrapped up into one; cinnamon, cloves, crackling fire, maybe even a wisp of nutmeg and sugar cookie?  It is amazing - truly.  I used to buy the large 3-wicked candles from Bath and Body Works, but after being lit for an hour or so the scent became smothering and too strong.  This candle keeps that warm, pleasant, and mild cozy vibe consistently, no crazy glade plug in effects over here.  All you need is one and its sultry scent will weave its way through your entire abode.  



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