Like many bloggers today I am taking time to reflect on the past year & even the year ahead. No doubt about it, 2010 was the year of new beginnings for me.
In 2010 I started to take my blogging more seriously by creating a brand, new website and even landing a steady writing gig over at The Travel Belles. I have also had the privilege of getting to know some amazing people all over the world, those of which I am now happy to call my friends. Without their continued support I'm not sure I would even still be doing this. I really found a support system and sense of community this year, whether it be from blogging or even Twitter. These very special women have impacted the way I blog & I am constantly in awe of their amazing talents. Thank you so much Margo, Lindsey, Susan & Grace. You all have helped me so much this past year. Thank you so much!
I also baked, cooked and entertained more than ever in 2010, something that I would have found daunting say five years ago. This is something that I plan to continue in 2011. I also traveled to many different countries and was able to share in my best friend's very special day. We plan to do some more traveling next year so stay tuned on the blog for more photos and stories from around the world.
Looking to the year ahead, I really only have one New Year's resolution; to be a better person. Like any modern day woman, I find myself sometimes bogged down by negative thoughts and feelings whether it be from the media, friends etc. In 2011 I'm going to be and STAY positive and I hope to (I know this sounds cheesy) in someway impact the world.
I just want to take a moment to thank you all for your continued support. Without you and your comments & encouragement this blog would not be possible.
Happy New Year!
I cannot believe that Christmas is tomorrow! Every year the duration leading up to the big day is so exciting and then just like that it's over. I'm really going to stop and take in all the Holiday memories this year. I really want to thank you all (whoever you are) for being such great readers & supporters of this blog. It would not be possible without you all. So thank you & Happy Holidays to you and yours.
This weeks Favorites:
- For all my francophiles, I highly suggest you check out the Katia & KylieMac podcast and site. I love listening to their stories of living as ex-pats in France. Favorite episode yet has to be the one with David Lebovitz and suze....
- Priscilla writes a great blog about Paris called Weekend In Paris. Recently she featured a post with my Twitter friend Forest. It is a delightful read.
- Steph's site Bite By Bite makes me SO motivated to bake! Check out her Snowmen Cookies!
- Thanks to my Twitter friends @Fleurishing & @Claremontroad I recently discovered Melissa's AMAZING site Operation Nice. I love this idea and it totally fits in with my new year's resolution (which I will be revealing next week). I have to admit sometimes the news bums me out, but I have a feeling this site will be my daily saving grace from the world doldrums.
I am the first to admit, sometimes I don't feel like cooking. After a long and stressful day the last thing I want to be doing is standing in my kitchen preparing a meal. Which is why I often look for fast & healthy dinner alternatives. This toasted sandwich is packed full of flavor and even better tons of vegetables. I served my sandwiches with a fresh mixed greens salad. This meal is so quick and easy I'm sure it will become a fast favorite.
Please check out my post on a new twist on a Holiday favorite and Steph's lovely blog. I am planning to make her festive fruitcake cookies very soon.
Steph and I have some very exciting things planned for our blogs. So stay tuned!
I made this recently as the dessert for dinner party guests. I was well recieved and extremely easy to make. As much as I love entertaining guests I don't enjoy spending a whole day in the kitchen, so this mousse is perfect. It has a wonderful smooth, creamy texture and the raspberry & ricotta is a flavorful combination.
- 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup jam
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
In a, blend the ricotta until light and fluffy, about 20 seconds. Add the jam and pulse until combined. Transfer to a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream until thick. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. Working in batches, carefully fold the cream mixture into themixture. Spoon the into serving bowls and refrigerate for 1 hour. with fresh raspberries and serve.
Krista accepted this challenge wholeheartedly. I am a HUGE fan of Krista's blog A Rambling Tart. Krista's travel stories and captivating photos are sure to delight any food or travel lover.
Krista and I decided to post about Winter Getaways. Please visit Krista's post here. And we look forward to hearing from you!
Today I woke up to snow and -25 degree weather. Now more than ever I am craving a Winter Getaway. Growing up our trips took place in the Summer, when we traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina staying for a couple weeks in a condo by the beach. When my husband and I started to travel I wanted to explore the world. I love the beach don't get me wrong, but I suppose growing up around the beach every summer had really spoiled me. So for the majority of our travels we have been exploring different European countries and cities.
However, the last couple of years we have really started to feel the cold, dreary depressing days of winter. Last year we took a much needed mid-winter vacation to Florida. Just one week of sunshine and fun allowed us to withstand the last couple months of winter. This year we were faced with another vacation dilemma. Where to plan our vacation retreat?
- Make sure that your resort is relatively close to the airport. Many remote islands and resorts can be hours away from the closest airport and can reduce the time spent actually enjoying your trip rather than riding in an bus for hours upon hours.
- Remember that the hotel star system for the Caribbean is very different from American hotel star ranking system. For example a four star Caribbean resort may actually be only three stars in an American hotel ranking.
- As with all Trip Advisor reviews please, please, please take them with a grain of salt. I cannot recommend enough building a great relationship with a trusted travel agent. Our travel agent Angie is my traveling guardian angel and is extremely knowledgeable about all things travel.
This recipe is a great meal for a wintery weekend dinner. The vegetables in combination with ricotta cheese and dough make for a wonderful savory supper. Try it tonight, I promise it will be worth the wait to roast the vegetables.
How cute is this ornament? My Aunt & Uncle are avid travelers and I'm lucky that they pick up little trinkets and lovely ornaments from their travels for me. This ornament is obviously from San Antonio, Texas. I love it's shape and hand painted chilies.
Another week has gone by and my Twitter friend @rachelcurrier just reminded me that Christmas is ONLY TWO WEEKS AWAY!! I can't believe it. Seems like just yesterday I was commenting on the pretty Fall colours and now I'm walking to work in -18 weather.
No matter because this weekend is shaping up to be pretty amazing. (well everyday SHOULD BE AMAZING) sorry is that too sunshine and rainbows for you all? We are hosting two dinner parties this weekend ('Tis the season) and some more holiday baking with my mum.
I still have so much shopping to do as well. There are not enough hours in the day (hence why I'm writing this now...)
Let's get to this week's favorites!
- I love Julie's review of The King's Kitchen in Charlotte, NC. I cannot wait to try it next time I'm in town.
- I really enjoyed Jen's post about Christmas in the real world.
- My friend Lindsey takes incredible photos of Paris. Check out her photo's of the snow storm.
- How cute are Kristina's Wordless Wednesday photos?
- Totally digging Brooke's Christmas Tunes Mix
- I don't know why but I love this photo from Susan's latest trip to Paris
- Dear Santa I would like everything on Em's Ladies Gift guide
- How festive and cute is Kayla's lovely home?
- Please help out those less fortunate and help out my friend The Suburban Princess!
- Love the latest Holiday post on The Travel Belles!
Have a wonderful weekend.
Ps. Minnie is TOTALLY in the holiday spirit! Can't you tell!?
Today's ornament needs no introduction. For those of you who don't know I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. ( I started reading the books when they JUST came out in the United Kingdom) Anyways, Harry will always have a special place in my heart. However, this one has unfortunately & incidentally lost a hand over the years...
I don't know about you, but I get tired of making the same thing over and over. I've recently started watching Giada at Home. I really enjoy the recipes. They are fun and really easy to make. Even better the ingredients are readily accessible at your local supermarket.
- Butter, for ramekins
- 12 lasagna sheets
- 3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1/2 cup whipping cream, at room temperature
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus 1/2 cup (2 ounces)
- 1 large lemon, zested
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp Provolone
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Special equipment: 6 (10-ounce) ramekins, each 2 1/2 inches tall and 3 1/2 inches in diameter
Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter 6 (10-ounce) ramekins. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Using 2 cooked lasagna noodles in an "x" shape, line each ramekin, pushing the noodles gently into the bottom of the ramekins, allowing any excess pasta to overhang on the sides.
In a food processor, blend the corn, cream and garlic until chunky. Add the mascarpone, 1 cup of the Pecorino Romano cheese, the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until just combined. Spoon 1/4 cup of the filling into the bottom of each ramekin and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Provolone. Fold 2 overhanging pieces of pasta over the filling, (trim the ends of the pasta with scissors, if necessary). Add another 1/4 cup of filling to each ramekin and top with another 2 tablespoons Provolone. Fold over the 2 remaining overhanging pieces of pasta.
Spoon any remaining filling on top of the pasta. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the tops are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
To serve: Run a knife around the edge of the ramekins to loosen the lasagnas. Unmold the lasagnas onto serving plates and serve.
Growing up we had several Holiday traditions. One of my favorites had to be a special Christmas Tree ornament present that my aunt and uncle would give my brother and I every year. Needless to say over the years we both have acquired quite the collection.
Now in my own home, I love decorating the tree every year. I love rediscovering my special ornaments and reminiscing about the year I received it and what it meant to me.
Over the next couple weeks I will be featuring many of the special ornaments I treasure on my tree.
First up is my first personalized Christmas ornament. How cool is this? In 1995 personalized ornaments were all the rage. My aunt & uncle gave me this and I will treasure it forever. Why doesn't Hallmark bring these back. I love it!
Do you have any ornaments that have a story?
- The Travel Belles featured a great interview with Darley Newman of the PBS series, Equitrekking.
- Nichole of Little Brown Pen recently featured some wonderful Parisian Holiday photos.
- I love this placecard idea that Brooke recently featured on her site Claremont Road
- How cute and delicious is this cake that Julie from Willow Bird Baking recently made?
- I am loving Krista's gorgeous winter photos!
- Love Forest's latest Parisian cocktail review!
- Pretty sure my next baking project will be Rachel's Cranberry-Orange Pinwheels
- I am loving Shannon's blog series 12 Day of Christmas blogger's wish list
Leslie was the first to accept my challenge and I cannot thank her enough. Over the last couple months Leslie and I have conversed over Twitter and I absolutely love her site. Her posts cover a wide range of topics but are always smartly written with enthusiasm and wit. In the spirit of the Holiday season, Leslie and I decided upon the topic of gifting. Leslie's post can be found below. For my take on gifts, please check out Leslie's awesome site Unhip Chick!
Thank you Leslie for sharing in this unique blogging experience. I truly thank you & wish you a happy holiday season.
PS. Leslie and I want to hear from you! Comments are greatly appreciated.
Making a list and checking it twice
Christmas in my family is an organized affair. To this end, list making has become an art form in my family. It’s not that we’re so numerous in members that military precision is required; we just find that everything goes much more smoothly when a list is involved. When you grow up with a Dad who believes that there’s a place for everything and everything in its place, and a Mom who keeps lists and budgets and notes and records in carefully organized folders and bins, you have to expect that a holiday as big as Christmas would be just as organized.
The Christmas gift list is the most important list of all. Just like Santa, we make a list and check it twice, but leave the determination of naughty and nice to a higher power. We’d rather everyone get what they really want for Christmas than make gift buying a guessing game. This way, no one ends up with a dozen pairs of underwear and socks, nose hair clippers, or flannel nightshirts under the tree.
For some of the family, the list exists only on paper in handwritten note form. I, however, have elevated the list to a higher plain, by creating a spreadsheet to track gifts by person and dollar amount spent. With the click of a mouse, I can see exactly how many gifts I’ve purchased, how much each gift costs, and the cumulative amount I’ve spent for everyone on my list. It’s a thing of beauty! Really, it is! And yes, you can now nominate me for Nerd of the Year.
If you are able to sail through the holidays without making lists, then I humbly bow down to your vastly superior cerebral powers. I prefer to think that my brain is so crammed full of knowledge, experience, expertise and brilliance that there just isn’t enough room for all the details of the Christmas season. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
Now, where did I put that copy of my list?
Leslie Uriss Spehar is the Unhip Chick. She can leap tall tales in a single bound. Neither rain, nor snow, nor bad hair days, nor lack of chocolate will keep the Chick from sharing her completely unscientific reviews and thoroughly biased opinions on all things Chickalicious on her blog. When she’s not trying out new products and sharing her opinions on life’s wonders, she provides creative communications services for a variety of clients. She can be found online at unhipchick.com and lesliecreates.com and on Twitter @unhipchickblog.