Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Time to Start Planting

As I was making my way through our local Wal-Mart over the weekend, I decided to wander back to the garden center.  I was pleased to see so many gardening items already out on the store shelves.  I was mostly interested in picking up some seed packets.  What I found instead was quite a nice surprise.  Bins and bins of biodegradable seed pods from Miracle-Gro.  Read on to find out more about this ingenious new idea.

The minds at Miracle-Gro have come up with this handy new way of getting your seeds in the ground by way of these peat pods.  They are called "Growables Seed Pods."  Each pod contains the seeds in a soil mixture and Miracle-Gro fertilizer. All you do is loosen the soil in your garden, insert the pod, bring the soil up to the top of the pod, and water.  I will be planting these in our Earth Boxes.

The selections were endless.

Lots of wonderful vegetables and melons.  And the price was right.  

I bought several of them.  Cucumber, spinach and cherry tomato.

Watermelon, Sweet Pepper, Globe Tomato, and Jalapeno Pepper.  I see some delicious homemade salsa in my future.  They also had herb seed pods and I bought three of those to plant in pots and keep in the kitchen.

I loved these cute clay pots with the glossy green bands of color at the top.  Since I had three herb seed pods, I needed three pots.  And saucers.  Don't forget the saucers when planting in clay pots.

I filled each pot with Miracle-Gro potting soil.  Then inserted one each of a different herb seed pod in each pot.

First, Cilantro.  This will be used in the salsa recipe.

Next, Dill.  I love dill, ... on most anything.  With sour cream on a baked potato.  Sprinkled in a salad. Over grilled or baked salmon.  I cannot wait to have my own fresh dill.

And finally, Basil.  Another favorite.  Delicious with tomato and sliced mozzarella on a sandwich. Or used to flavor homemade tomato sauce.

Here are all three pots with the seed pods ready to start growing.

I removed the paperwhites and the amaryllis from the window ledge in the kitchen.  Their time had come and gone.  They will be put away until next year.  In their place I set the herb pots.  They will receive lots of morning sun in this location.  Two on this side.

And one on other other side.  I cannot wait until we start to see these sprout.

You will note that I did not label each pot with the specific herb planted.  Since each of these herbs has a very specific leaf formation, it is not necessary for me to label them since I have worked with each herb many, many times over the years.  If you are just starting to work with herbs, you could easily label each pot with a small stick pushed into the soil with the name of the herb handwritten on the stick.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We're Gearing Up for Valentine's Day

It's almost time for Cupid's arrow.  And we are quickly putting together our embossed favor boxes for sale on  Take a look.

We have some very cute boxes that we will be offering.  These boxes are two inch square and each is hand embossed with a different Valentine's Day theme.  We have "Flirt" boxes, "Kiss" boxes, "Happy Valentine's Day" boxes and "Fancy Heart" boxes.  Each design comes in either pink grapefruit or brilliant red, except the Fancy Heart.  That only comes in pink grapefruit.  The brilliant red just did not work for that design.  On the far right you will see that we have started some Easter boxes as well.  We are going to experiment with adding some additional colors to these, so they will be added to the site a little later.

The boxes will be sold in sets of five.

Each box comes with a hearty amount of excelsior, or crinkle-cut, to provide a cushion for whatever you desire to include in the box.  A delicious truffle, or two.  Some heart-shaped candies.  Maybe a little round lip-gloss or two.  Or, maybe a, ... ring?  Or a tennis bracelet or a pendant on a chain.

The top box has solid colored pink paper excelsior.  This box has a combination pink and ivory that is coarse, like a very thinly shaved balsa wood.  Either way, the boxes are very cute and a great way to present gifts or to use as place settings if you are having a dinner.  They also work on an entry table just inside the front door to be handed to guests as they leave as a parting gift.  You decide how you want to use them.  We are in the process of getting them photographed for the website, so check back in a few days and we'll have more news.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Someone Finished their Wedding Planner Course

Whose favorite blogger is now a certified Wedding Planner?  Why me, of course.  I finished the online course and received my certificate last week.

Will I actively seek clients looking for a Wedding Planner?  No.  I have my hands quite full enough with Welcome to Crest Avenue and BOXSHOPPE.  Not to mention other ventures.  I took the course so that I could fully understand all the aspects of wedding planning and what a Wedding Planner does.  It is quite an involved profession and not for someone who is easily rattled or who does not have good organizational skills.  I expect to work with Wedding Planners in the future when I receive orders for favor boxes for the wedding reception.

Next on my list of continuing education?  Event Planning/101.  I have already signed up for the course.  I just need to get started.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Another Lesson in the Importance of Details

As we have discussed previously, "it's all in the details."  Sometimes, indeed, most times how your projects turn out is based on how well you take care of the details.  We are going to talk today about just such a project I had over the Christmas season and I am going to share with you how I approached the issue and solved it with a minimum of time and money.

During my Christmas shopping this year, I found a gift for Bev in this Ellen Tracy Shimmering Eyes ensemble.  The package contained a melange of dusky eye shadows, eyeliners and I believe a lip gloss or lip liner.  I knew immediately I had to buy this as a Christmas gift for her.

The box was in perfect order, but as you can see above, the clear, round seal which held the box top in place was dirty and worn.  The gift itself was lovely.  But this unattractive clear seal just wouldn't do.  It detracted from the package.

After I got the box home, I set about removing the dirty and worn seal from the box top.  Some of these come off with great ease.  Some do not.  This seal was somewhere in the middle.  It took a little time and patience to remove it cleanly.  But in the end, I was the victor.

I keep in stock a sheet, or several sheets of gold and silver seals which are used on greeting card envelopes. Since the trim on this box was goldtone, I decided to use a gold seal for this project.

After the clear seal was removed, I simply replaced it with one of these gold seals.  Such an improvement.  This small upgrade gave the box a nice, clean, sophisticated look.

It matched the gold trim perfectly.  These gold and silver seals, at 1-1/4" in diameter, are larger than most of the clear seals which are used in packing these days.  You could probably get away with leaving the clear seal in place and placing one of these larger seals over top.  My suggestion - it is better to remove the clear seal if at all possible.  Take your time and try to remove it cleanly.  If it will not cooperate, then place your gold or silver seal over top.

Just remember - for the perfect presentation, ... it's all in the details!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

And the Final Post on New Year's

As we continued to prepare for the evening, a few more dishes made their way to the serving counter. They are shared below.

In this crock was a delicious spinach and artichoke dip which was served warm.  Really magnificent. There was very little left over.  I enjoyed the left over heated, on crackers.  I need to get this recipe from Bev.

In this shot you see there is a glass pedestal of smoked turkey roll-ups with a dish of pico de gallo. Superb.  These were very good.  Again, I need to get this recipe.

Here, at the bottom, you see we added the crock of spinach and artichoke dip and sliced baguette which was brushed with olive oil and put under the broiler until just browned and then placed on a festive serving tray.

Finally, a boat of ham balls.  These were delicious too.  I could see these being served with a nice cucumber/dill sauce.  We served them plain and they were delicious like that.  I would make these again and serve them with the cucumber/dill sauce.

A festive and wonderful evening.  A great way to ring in the new year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Some of the Dishes We Prepared for Our Celebration

Bev was instrumental in getting all the dishes prepared for New Year's.  Not only did she prepare them, but they were her recipes.  The only thing I provided was a pineapple cheese ball and a Winking Santa cake from Swiss Colony.  And the booze.  But more on that later.  Take a look at some of what she prepared.

This was the serving counter at first pass.  Starting center top, going clockwise, we have fried tortellini with hot mustard sauce, pineapple cheese ball with a cracker assortment, Alaskan steamed shrimp with cocktail sauce (from Bob and Bette), cheese straws with a pepper relish and Scoops chips.  That is someone's cocktail in the upper left corner.  Oh, wait.  That was mine!!!

This Winking Santa cake was ordered from Swiss Colony.  Their baked goods - in fact everything from them, is so delicious.  They have been around for a long time and I do not think you can ever go wrong by ordering any of their selections.  This was not only very cute, but incredibly delicious.

Another long shot of the serving counter.

And another.

This was a corn relish dip that was very tasty in the Scoops chips.  Or on anything.  And everything!

The fried tortellini was delicious also.  But they needed to be served with a condiment and the hot mustard fit that bill.

The pineapple cheese ball is always a hit and this one did not disappoint.  I think of all the cheese balls I make, this is my favorite.

Friday, January 9, 2015

And Finally, ...

One last post of New Year's Eve.  I thought these pictures were so beautiful and even more beautiful in black and white.  So I decided to go with black and white.

The mantel beautifully lit by candlelight.

A hearty fire in the fireplace.

Mr. and Mrs. Frosty D. Snowman adding some whimsy to the mix.

And finally, the sparkle and bling that is the season.  The new mercury glass Christmas trees a present from Bev this year.  Along with the votive holders in the center.

You can set your home like this too.  Take the decorations you have and make groupings.  Small, large, whatever works in the space.  Put together an eclectic grouping of things.  Even if you think they may not work together.  Try it anyway.  Then add to and take away as you see fit.  Decorating doesn't have to be strict or stringent.  In fact, it should not be.  Let your creative mind take you where it will.

New Year's Even Celebration, Part II

Continuing with our evening of celebration, here are a few more shots taken throughout the house.

This beautiful shot of the fireplace mantel in the living room.  Proudly displayed is a new wooden nutcracker that Steven received as a gift from Bev.

It was so cold on New Year's Eve that we set bottles of champagne outside on the deck to keep them cool.  Just before midnight I went out and opened a bottle and poured the glasses.  I left them to sit on the deck railing for just a few minutes and then brought them inside and handed a champagne coup to everyone.  When midnight arrived and the ball fell, we all turned up our glasses and enjoyed some super-chilled bubbly.  It was delicious.  Champagne must be cold, cold, cold for my palate.  This was perfect.

A few more wide shots of the table.

I wanted the house aglow with candlelight.

And I think we were successful in achieving that goal.

Such a beautiful table and a happy event spent with people we love.  Thank you Bev, for all your help and your gifts.  Thank you Bob and Bette for the goodies and your company.

We have great expectations for 2015.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Our New Year's Eve Celebration

We had a wonderful evening.  Bev arrived on Tuesday afternoon.  She and Steven went shopping to gather all the ingredients we needed to make our festive trays of delectables.  I had to work on Wednesday.  So they set about putting together the trays while I was working.  I arrived to a kitchen fully in command by Bev.  The table was set and the dishes mostly prepared.  At around 8:30, we walked down the street to visit our friend Mark.  We stayed for a drink and then returned home to set out everything.  Bob and Bette arrived a little while later and stayed to see the ball drop and for a short time after midnight.  It was a blast.  Some pictures for you to enjoy.

I picked up this "party in a box" that had hats and tiaras and leis and horns.  Bev put it all together in this wooden box and set it on the dining room table.  It looked wonderful when you first walked in the room.

Candlelight in the middle of the table and several silver and platinum tapers on the table and throughout the house.  The candles were Nicole Miller and just beautiful.

These two pillars are battery operated, so we were able to tuck them on top of this cabinet.  I still prefer real candles, but these battery powered ones are ok in certain situations.

Nut roll and a delicious egg nog flavored cake from Bob and Bette.  I liked both but the egg nog cake was to die for!

Steven picked up these plates in black and gold which matched the "party in a box" items.  I could see this all coming together nicely.

A better shot of the nut roll and egg nog cake.  YUM!!!

I found these white snow flakes in one of the boxes containing the Christmas decorations and I thought they would be perfect under the candle holders.  And they were.

I will have more pictures of the evening to share with you later in the week.