Entertaining at Home: Wine and Cheese Pairings + a Giveaway!

Image Courtesy The Cheese Ambassador

One of the things I love to do most is to entertain. I would have people over every day if I could. While I love the hustle and bustle of larger parties I do prefer the smaller, more intimate gatherings... one or two couples or a handful of girlfriends. Doesn't a nice evening at home with the girls... a nice salad... some bread, cheese and lovely wine sound divine?

Well, I'm joined forces with Sarah Kahn owner of The Cheese Ambassador who has graciously agreed to give one of my lucky readers a chance to win a Cheese Basket! You'll get to choose either The Mediterranean Course Gift Basket or The American Artisanal Course Gift Basket. All you'll have to do is pick up some fresh bread, and a couple of bottles of wine! Go to her site and let us know which basket you prefer.

Of course if you are hosting a wine and cheese party you will need to know how to pair wine and cheese. Sarah has these fabulous tips to share with us!
Pairing wine with gourmet cheese is more an art than a science. The great part about that is the trial and error process can be rather delicious. Here are a few guidelines to get you going in the right direction.
Play the match game. Match the boldness of your cheese with the boldness of a wine. If you have a slightly more subtle cheese like a Port Salut, you need an equally medium intensity wine, otherwise one will overpower the other. Try to match the subtleties in a wine with the subtleties in a cheese. The nuttiness of a cheese like Piave works well with a slight nuttiness of a wine. The bright, tanginess of a fresh chevre goes well with the bright, acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc.

ImageTry sweet with salty for a classic combination. Off-dry and dessert wines like a Late Harvest Riesling balance the saltiness of cheeses like the Cave-Aged Blue.
Give Equal Opportunity. Just as with your cheese plate, you want a variety of grape varietals and regions represented. If you’re serving three cheeses, try to pair them with one sparkling, one white and one red wine from different regions.

Go Regional. As with food, cheese and wine from the same region have a natural inclination to pair well together. For hundreds and thousands of years, farmers and vintners have been creating their goods to work well with the local palate. So try the Tipsy Goat with a spicy Spanish wine from Rioja for a near foolproof pairing.
Serving Order. Keep your heaviest cheese and wine pairing until the end otherwise you’re apt to have your mouth coated in blue cheese early on making you unable to taste the nuances of delicate cheese and wine pairings.

For more information on wine and cheese pairings visit The Cheese Ambassador website. (Link at the top of the page)

To participate in the giveaway
You will get 1 entry if you follow, 1 entry if you Tweet about the giveaway and 1 entry if you mention my giveaway on your blog. For a fourth entry leave a really witty or sweet comment! Please, no wining or cheesy comments ;)

The giveaway will end in one week -- Wednesday, March 10th and the winner will be announced sometime in the evening.

My Preppy Cookie Winner is....

a perfectly named Mama Bickie!!!!

Yay!!! I am so excited for you and slightly jealous that I have to send the lovely cookie cutters off to you ;)


The result was chosen by the advanced means of "What number am I thinking of?"
Rebecca had a number and I guessed and the 10th person to leave a comment was Mama Bickie. Who says technology rules??!!

Vaseline and Sharpie Save This Fashionista's Day!

I have these boots. They're my favorite boots. They're not terribly expensive, nor for that matter were they terribly inexpensive. I do love them. They have a low, one inch heel and have a silver buckle along the back of the heel. They look great with paired with skirts as well as with jeans. They've got a horsey kind of feel to them. As I said they are my favorites. I love them! My husband bought them a few months after Alexander was born. I was in that lovely "in between" stage. Not back into my regular clothes and not in pregnancy clothes. I was feeling a bit bah humbug-ish and we were at a lovely boutique shoe store in Westport that sells both children's as well as adult shoes. I remember picking up a pair of shoes for Rebecca. I'm fussy about children's school shoes. Especially Marry Janes. They have to have a classic feel to them, if you know what I mean. And so many of today's are just, well, wrong. And also I feel that little girl's Mary Janes should not have a heel on them, especially when worn as a school shoe. So that's why we were there. As I was sitting with the children he sauntered over with a lovely black boot in his hand. "These are really nice," he said to me. I agreed. "Do you want them?"

We don't typically buy things for practically no reason. It's not like the old days, for us, with two incomes and no kids and plenty of trips to JCrew and Williams-Sonoma. So I was rather surprised by his generous offer. And the boots indeed were lovely. The boots indeed are lovely, only they really need to visit the cobbler.

I haven't worn them yet this winter and I have been dying to do so! I do love my black suede boots with the 3 inch heel, but those are not practical when running errands all day... when toting a 4 year old and bags and bags hanging off your arms. And the are not practical on the ice. What I really need to do is to get the boots to the cobbler and get the heel fixed. But the cobbler is about 20 minutes away and not near anyplace I need to be at this point in time.

So this morning I had on my black velvet swing coat with the Peter Pan collar, an old faded pair of jeans and what I really wanted to wear were my Favorite Boots. (I love nothing more than to dress up a pair of jeans with pearls and velvet this time of year!) I picked the boots up and held them gently, tenderly.

And off we went in search of the Vaseline and a black Sharpie. I found the Vaseline first. Using an old rag I dipped it into the Vaseline and then rubbed the petroleum jelly all over my boots. How they shined, even the toe that a moment ago had seemed quite scuffed up! Next I had to fix the piece of leather that had ripped away from the heel. I got my Sharpie and colored in the area where the leather broke free. After inspection I declared my Favorite Boots wearable!

To the naked eye no one would be able to tell my handiwork! They still need to get to a cobbler but indeed I will be able to wear them over the next couple of weeks. After the holidays I will have them properly restored.

Tomorrow is the last day you can enter my Lilly Pulitzer Cookie Cutter Giveaway... so enter now!

My Week in Summary

5 dozen chocolate shortbread stars baked but need to be iced (frosted?)
5 dozen regular shortbread stars to be baked, and iced
4 dozen oatmeal white chocolate cranberry cookies baked
3 dozen brownie ganache balls baked and decorated
1 ornament purchased wrapped and brought to annual Ornament exchange party
1 gift certificate purchased and wrapped for Holiday Baby Shower for an Oopsie who is expecting twins!
10 presents per child purchased and wrapped (yeah!)
3 outfits planned for Holiday Parties this week ( and changed about 30 times each!)
100 Christmas cards written so far
0 presents purchased for Darling Husband so far!
1 trip to Target to purchase fillers and Christmas gifts for cousins
7 loads of laundry
1 elf needing to be moved daily --forgot 2 nights in a row!
2 class grab bag gifts purchased and wrapped
1 class grab bag gift to be purchased and wrapped
0 presents purchased for my parents so far!
1 party to plan!
1 trip to be made to post office to purchase stamps
1 trip to dry cleaners to drop off and pick up holiday wear
1 week left of freedom (before kids are on Christmas vacation!)
1 boys blazer to purchase
2 winter coats, 3 pairs of ski pants and 2 pairs of winter boots to purchase

I haven't done much posting. It's that busy time of year!
Please Enter my Lilly Cookie Cutter giveaway if you are a blog follower!
Please stop by Miss Janice's to see a really cute Lilly of the Week photo!

Just watched Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Clause! Which aired on CBS last night that we recorded on the DVR... It's going to be a classic for sure!

Ok, the fun is over.... back to work!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Do you have an elf on your shelf? I love this little guy? I wish I had known about him years ago when the older two were younger... This little elf comes to your family to help Santa. He watches over you (and your children) to see if you are being naughty or nice... You mustn't touch him as he has magic. While you sleep at night he finds a new spot to watch you from. The kids named our elf Sammy. He'll be hanging around until Christmas Eve when his job is done and will come back next year right around Thanksgiving time!

and Father Christmas watches from the piano in the living room. He can see you as you enter and leave the foyer!

We're starting a Nutcracker collection. Alexander picked out a new one the other day. At CVS no less! He helped me set up this display in the front entry way.

Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care... but my mantle still needs some greenery and color!

And when I wasn't decorating and bringing up the Christmas mugs I was trying to get the rest of the house back in order. (Yes, we have a whole set of mugs just for Christmastime!)

My mother gave me a box of ornaments. I almost tossed them thinking she was giving me her garbage as she is so apt to do, but these were lovely. I am still searching for a home for them. I don't think these will go on a tree.

And the millions of Christmas cards from Shutterfly sit upon my desk needing to be labeled and sent. Must admit, I was a bit disappointed with them. The quality is not nearly as good as the ones from Tiny Prints I ordered last year. Oh well, live and learn!

Yeah, the cans of paint still need to get put away. I thought that Someone might help me. But no such luck!

I saw this in Real Simple Magazine. I thought how simple, fun and festive!

Gotta get my chalkboard back up on my walls!

This was my view earlier this evening. I love the colors of the dining room and the kitchen together.

We're getting there... slowly but surely!

For those of you who have sent me emails about my giveaway (see previous post) some of you are very close and some of you are um, not so close! More clues to come.

hints for my next give away!

this one is only for my current followers (either listed on my followers section, or those of you who have me in your blogroll...) this is my thanks to you all!!!

hint #1. an elephant, a palm, a monkey
hint # 2. one of my hobbies

DO NOT leave your answers here... leave a comment (please!) but send the answers to me via my email

Giveaway Winner!!!

I am happy to announce the winner of my Christmas book giveaway.... I used random.org and plugged in the number of entries each participant got and the number chosen was 85 and the lucky person to have that number is .... Preppy Cricket! Congratulations my friend!!!

(Stay tuned for more... the next giveaway is for current followers only and it's a Beaut!!)

Decorating for The Holidays with Mother Nature

If you've been reading my blog for a while now you know that I love to bring the outside inside. I love to use nature as a tool and an inspiration to my decorating. It's beautiful and it is free!

A couple of years ago I made this centerpiece. I gathered pine cones in assorted sizes, as well as acorns and painted them gold, silver and white using regular poster paint. I then took a few really cheap plastic apple ornaments that frankly were quite ugly. (My mother is famous for giving me everything she wants to, but cannot toss!) I painted them lightly with a coat of the gold poster paint as well. And finally added a few of the smallest ball ornaments I could find lying around the ornament boxes in the basement.

A few pine cones have broken over the past few years but there were still plenty enough to create a new centerpiece!

If you want to recreate this at home you will need:

* One or two foam paint brushes. These are disposable. I don't want to ruin a good brush on the pine cones.
* A bucket filled with pine cones and acorns of assorted shapes and sizes
* Newspaper to work on
* Gold, silver, white or whatever color paint you desire

Paint your objects and let dry several hours on newspaper.

Find a pretty bowl, platter or large plate and arrange your items to your liking.

And, for my fabulous southern and coastal friends, fear not! I have a delightfully wonderful ornament for you!

This brilliant idea came from my friend Maya at Completely Coastal. I adore her blog and have to see what great things she has on there daily! Maya, in turn, got the idea from The Stories of A to Z... a new discovery for me... I'll be back for more!

I just love this ornament! I have some small pieces of sea glass that my 8 year old collected in Maine last summer. This will be his project for certain!

In order to make this ornament you will need a plain glass ornament, some sand, some shells or beach glass and a funnel to use to pour the sand in to the ornament. It doesn't get easier or prettier than that! (I'm thinking a pretty pink or lavender bow to tie on to the tree!)

Now I am waiting for Maya to come back to me with a creative way to use my 30+ oversized clam shells the kids collected in Newport this past summer! No pressure Maya... I'll wait... and wait and wait and wait! ;)

Don't forget to enter my Holiday Giveaway in the post below!

Fabulous Giveaway at Completely Coastal!

Not too long ago, sometime over the summer, I stumbled upon and bookmarked this wonderful blog, Completely Coastal. I check it daily! She has wonderful ideas and her blog is truly beautiful. Well I hopped on over this morning to see that she has a fabulous giveaway. She is giving away a handcrafted, unscented pillar candle by Black & Light. Please stop by Black & Light to view some of these beautiful, handcrafted candles. There is a candle with bees on it! I can't copy the image, so you'll have to head on over to check it out.... and for those of you who love lobsters there's one for you too!

In honor of My Birthday I have a FABULOUS GIVEAWAY!!!

It was quite chilly in my room when I woke up this morning. I love it that way! The cool, crisp air blew through the curtains and swirled around the room as I lay sandwiched in between my duvets and Alexander (who snuck in at some point while I was sleeping). I could have stayed in bed all morning, but alas it's a school day and a Monday to boot. I went downstairs to make myself a nice, hot cappuccino and crept back up beneath the covers for a little while longer.

Unfortunately morning rush doesn't recognize anyone's Birthdays, nor do the dishes in the sink or the dishwasher. But, sadly, I am no longer 10, so I put on my Big Girl Panties and got on with the day. I emptied the dishwasher which was filled with crystal and stemware and china... my Tiffany candle sticks and vases and Martini pitchers and ice buckets ... all wonderful wedding gifts from many years ago... all had been sitting in moving boxes and awaiting to be unpacked. As I spent my yesterday unpacking these boxes, locating all these long lost treasures it felt almost as though I was unwrapping presents. Truthfully, I had forgotten about some of my wonderful items... do I really need all these things? Am I a shallow person for loving them all? I had survived a year without them... But I do love all these wonderful things and I will continue to put them to good use... and I will think of my friends with love when I use them. Most of these items were wedding gifts, almost 12 years ago to the day... I will think of Scotty when I use my Tiffany flutes, and Line when I use my Bistro dessert plates, and Susan when I fill my Frank Lloyd Wright vase with flowers... and my grandparents, who have since passed, every time I use my silver... I will think of all of my friends... so these items are tokens to me that are filled with memories... and this morning I can revel in my memories as I find new homes for these items!

And then I can empty out the sink into the dishwasher. Other than that and making my bed I plan on doing nothing else today. Except enjoying a lovely cocktail in the evening hours!

And because it is My Birthday (I look grand for 29, do I not?!) I am giving away a copy of Social Climbers by Beth Dunn that she has graciously agreed to autograph! I have heard it is a fabulous read! I'm anxiously awaiting my own copy in the mail. It should arrive momentarily. Hopefully today!

So this is how you will be eligible to win:

1. Leave me a message!

2. "Follow" Me!

3. Post about my giveaway on your blog


4. if you can come up with a really clever reason as to why you just have to have this season's "It" Book you'll get an extra entry!

Hurry, my giveaway ends next Monday! But, if you don't win this time I will be hosting another giveaway in 2 weeks in honor of my Dirty Dozen Anniversary...

So stay tuned and Cheers!
PS. I just learned that Preppy Paper Girl's Birthday is on Saturday and she's got a great giveaway too! So go check her out!