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Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

The new year is nearly upon us --- again.
New Year's Eve is a holiday that we celebrate in our household -- more than usual.  Its our anniversary!!  Yes, you heard that right.  We got married on New Year's Eve.  We figured it was a fun date, we'd never forget it, and we'd always have something special to do on that date.  We were right!
This year we have the privilege of spending it in Seoul Korea with my husband's daughter (she lives here --- and yes, you read that part right too --- I'm sitting on the floor in Seoul, posting on my blog.  Crazy eh??)  So this year, the celebration is a little bit different.  We spent the day touring a palace (in the freezing cold) and having our first taste of BiBimBap (wonderful!) and tonight we're snuggled up enjoying Korean home cooking and the grandson's attempt to fly his new remote control helicopter.
Usually we spend the early part of the evening with friends --- hors d'oeuvres are the standard.  Then we all head out to a black tie gala with our ballroom dance group.  Its an elegant and fun evening --- and quite the way to celebrate both the New Year and our anniversary.
Our standard contribution to the hors d'oeuvre menu is beef and pepper dip.
I know some of you (Shaw's shoppers!!) have a ton of free sour cream and cream cheese you're dying to use up --- here's the way to go.

Beef and Pepper Dip 

1 package cream cheese
1 container sour cream
1 jar of dried beef (in the tuna aisle, please)
1 bell pepper (pick your favorite color)

Take the dried beef out of the jar and snip it into tiny little strips using kitchen shears.
Cut the bell pepper into thin strips.  Cut each strip into half or thirds to make dipping easier.
Mix the sour cream and cream cheese together in a small casserole or small crockpot (the easier method)
Mix in the beef and the pepper.
Heat until bubbly
Sprinkle the top with paprika (until it looks terrific)
Serve with Triscuits or some other substantial cracker.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Outside

The amount of work that goes into decorating outside the house is enormous  --- and never do I appreciate my sweet, willing husband more than when we're knee deep in snow, hanging lights and greens and he is still whistling Christmas tunes.  He is one amazing man.  
All of this work was done AFTER we had driven up to the mountains in Vermont to pick out the perfect Christmas trees for OUR house --- and trees for my mom and my sister's houses too.  
What a great guy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas in the Kitchen and Dining Room

I'll just admit it:  I have way too much Christmas and holiday stuff in the form of dishes, glassware, and the like.  But don't go signing me up for Holiday Dishware Anonymous --- I love it.  I change out all of the dishes, the candles, the glasses.  For the two months of Christmas at our house the whole atmosphere is festive from Breakfast to Bedtime Snack ----
Dishware is cheap --- and its fun, festive and fancy.  No one ever needs to know what you did or didn't pay for holiday dishes and glasses.  They always look more impressive than they are.
Now the Coattails Way means searching out classy, chic dishes and glasses --- cute is fine -- CUTESY is not.  I don't do teddybears, geese or silly things.... I do DO whimsical, wistful, and wonderful!!
My dishes are an old CVS find --- during the 90% off clearance after Christmas one year (and that was before I learned to CVS like a pro)  Most of my glassware is either freebies from Arby's (or somewhere like that) or from Dollar Tree.  The rest are gifts and clearance finds ---- they still look wonderful and make the holiday merry and bright
See what you think

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas Mantle

Christmas gets a little nutty around here.  We go all out with the decorating.  Two trees enter the house (confuses the heck out of the dog).  The fireplace mantle gets a full makeover.  Dishes get switched out in the kitchen, the dining room gets new linens, candles etc --- even the bathroom gets holiday towels and and a holiday candle.
But first  -- our mantle.  I've been collecting things for many years --- they all get switched around and used in some different way every year.  This is the mantle this year.  
I created a forest of little trees along the line of the mantle.  One end is anchored by my adorable Snowman and an old Norwegian horse that I love.
The center of the mantle is two giant pinecone ornaments that I found a few years ago.  I love these things. They're dramatic and wonderful and showy and Christmassy --- and I love them in the center of the mantle.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Faux Jewelry

I’m gearing up for the holiday party whirlwind (it starts next week for us).  I love getting dressed up and feeling glamorous --- its very much part of the “on the coattails” thing.  But I’m not spending a fortune doing it.  Part of what takes a simple classy outfit (like my tuxedo) up the notch to positively glamorous is the jewelry.  Nearly all of my jewelry is costume stuff from high-end stores like Claires, Target, and the Icing (yeah – high end!!)  So I got some advice from a friend of ours who runs a jewelry store (the real kind – the kind I can’t afford) on choosing costume stuff that doesn’t scream “cheap”. 
·       Watch the stones.  Cheap costume jewelry often has brightly colored stones that simply could never occur in nature.  Go for the flatter, duller stones when you’re looking at colored “gems”.
·       Buy something big enough to be impressive, but small enough that no one looks at it and “knows” that you could NEVER possibly afford a real stone that size.  My faux diamond earrings do this terrifically for me.  Where I work, a lot of the women have much, much larger (gaudy, almost) diamond studs in their ears.  Mine are large enough to look great.  But if I had studs as large as some of the ones I see, everyone would instantly know they were fake. 
·       Watch the setting.  You want to see prongs around the “gem”.  A lot of cheap jewelry is glued together and that’s it.  Good jewelry is held into the setting using prongs to hold the stone. No prongs announces FAKE, FAKE, FAKE from 10 feet away.  (or however close you can see the missing prongs)
·       Shiny fake gold looks fake.  Brushed fake gold and matte fake gold can often pull it off.  Watch the super shiny stuff.
·       Take super good care of it.  The fake stuff scratches like crazy which is a dead giveaway that its cheap.  Watch that it doesn’t wear away over time and show the base that’s underneath the coating of fake gold.