Holiday Gifts for the Bride-to-Be

Here are just a few gift ideas for the bride-to-be in your life.  Happy shopping!

Relax and de-stress together with a mani/pedi and mimosas at Mimosa DC.

She needs her beauty sleep, so what better than a custom eye mask inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

A pretty kimono robe for her to wear while getting ready on her wedding day would be the perfect fit!

Get her ready for the honeymoon with custom luggage tags and passport cover.

Help her pick her playlist with this Soundtrack of Your Life wizard and love-ly DVF earbuds.

Practice toasting to the happy couple with these rose-colored Champagne Coupes from BHLDN.

She’ll definitely remember her lines with this adorable “I Do” necklace from Kate Spade.

Even tired dancing feet should sparkle!

These cute calling cards would be just right for a new Mrs.

A unique keepsake of her wedding day would be a custom letterpress print  of her wedding ceremony music or the lyrics to their first dance song.

DIY: Sound of Music Dessert Table

Several months ago I saw this and this on Amy Atlas’s blog.  My niece, Addison, was going to be turning 5 soon and I wanted to do something really special for her.  Addison and her little sister love The Sound of Music.   So, I started thinking about how I could do a dessert display inspired by the story.  There were just so many ideas to play with that, I, ultimately, focused on the song “My Favorite Things.”  In addition to making some of the things in the song like mittens and snowflakes, I mixed in a few of Addie’s favorite things like books, the color pink and lollipops.

This was very much a team effort.  My mother and sister-in-law and I were baking and decorating like crazy leading up to Addie’s birthday.  When I was a little girl, my mother would make these amazing princess/doll cakes for my birthday.  Each year, the dress would become more and more beautiful.  I asked my mother to make a similar cake, but decorated like Maria’s wedding dress since my nieces love to play “wedding” to the music from the movie.  My mother also painted the fabulous backdrop inspired by the “Hills Are Alive” scene.  My sister-in-law and I mixed, cut and iced cookies and made and decorated cupcakes.  Then, we had fun putting it all together.

We wanted this to be the first thing she saw when she came downstairs.   It was a lot of work, but so worth the look on Addie’s face when she saw all of the goodies.  Only on your birthday can you have candy, cookies and cake for every meal!

Addie celebrates with her new Barbie Maria doll.

A special thanks everyone who helped contribute!

Holiday Treats

About twenty years ago, one of my Mother’s students gave her a tin of homemade Cracker Candy as a holiday present.  We immediately begged for the recipe.  This simple and easy to make treat is great as a little gift for friends this holiday season!

Cracker Candy

2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

1 sleeve of Saltines or similar crackers

1 bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with sides with foil.  Lay crackers side-by-side.  Melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add sugar and stir until sugar starts to dissolve, about 3 minutes.  Pour evenly over crackers.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crackers.  Bake for another 3 minutes.  Using a spatula, spread the melted chocolate like icing to cover evenly.  Place pan in refrigerator for one hour to set.  Using a knife or your hands, break into medium to small pieces.

Other toppings to consider- toasted coconut, peanut butter chips, and candy cane pieces.


I Love BBQ

I really, really love BBQ!  I don’t mean just grilling or just ribs or just sauce, I mean, Southern-style, spice-rubbed, pork bbq with all the fixins.  One of my favorite things to do in Hot Springs is sample the local bbq.   BBQ places in Hot Springs are like coffee shops in the city, they’re everywhere.  Each one offers something different and usually features recipes or techniques that have been passed down through generations.

My hands-down favorite, one-stop place is Whole Hog Café.  This is kind of an unusual choice for me because I tend to be a bit of a snob about “chain” establishments.  That said, everything here is so mouthwateringly yummy. What I love most is that they have six different sauces.  As someone who loves swimming things around is sauce, getting to try all the different sauces and mix them together is fabulous.  Second, they make the best potato salad ever.  It is so creamy and flavorful (I’m pretty sure the secret ingredient is cream cheese).  We will eat here three times during the week we are in Hot Springs – it’s that good!

McClard’s is probably the best-known place, mostly because Bill Clinton said it was his favorite.  And, it is really good and worth the trip.  I also highly recommend Stubby’s – the pot-of-beans is awesome!  Both of these establishments have been in business for over 50 years.

No picture could perfectly capture this deliciousness on a plate, but this one from their web site looks good to me

Inspired by: Pumpkin

Fall is one of my favorite seasons.  From the cool, crisp days to the hearty cuisine to Thanksgivings spent at the lake, there’s just something so cozy and comforting about this time of year!

One of my friends has a fabulous foodie blog called Charm & Salt.  I recently saw one of her posts about this pumpkin fondue/bread pudding by Ruth Reichl and couldn’t wait to try the recipe myself.  With all of the pumpkins in the stores for Halloween, it seemed the perfect time.  This recipe couldn’t be easier and is a rich, delicious dish worthy of a simple evening at home or your next special occasion.

photo courtesy of Charm&Salt