Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Meal Saver

I tried a new recipe for dinner the other night, which I was really excited about, and it ended up being just so-so.  I had high hopes that it would be lovely and nutritious and easy and something that I would revisit again and again.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't that great either.

And so, I needed a really good dessert.

It needed to be easy (because I'd already spent my time on a mediocre dinner) and it needed to be guaranteed to be good, because I'd already taken my chances earlier.  So, I decided to make the Barefoot Contessa Decadent Molten Chocolate Cake Mix.  I know -- they look really good, but they don't look that easy, right? 

They were so easy!  In case you don't believe me, I'm going to share with you that I was actually a little tipsy from the wine I had with dinner (and making dinner, and being disappointed by dinner) -- and I still made them without a problem.  Amazingly, they came out just like the picture on the front of the box (except I made 4.5 of them instead of 6 -- but mine were BIGGER which is most definitely better).  What was the most surprising was how light they were -- I thought they would be dense and heavy and rich with chocolate, almost like a flourless chocolate cake.  They are definitely chocolatey, but they were also quite light and heavenly.  They were more along the lines of what I always think chocolate souffle should taste like.  I split one with my dinner companion, but I totally could have eaten my own.  I topped it with a dollop of whipped cream, but a little ice cream on the warm cake would have been really good too.

They also save nicely, so you don't have to eat all six in one sitting.  I may have had one for breakfast the next day (and it was excellent with coffee).  Meme and I also split one at the shop that afternoon -- we nuked it in the microwave for about 20 seconds, added some whipped cream to the top and it helped us get through that late afternoon lethargy.

Thinking ahead to Valentine's Day, which is on a Sunday this year, this would be a super easy, but special Valentine's Day treat.  Any recipe suggestions for something lovely and nutritious and easy to make for dinner?


Monday, January 25, 2010

"Emotionally Intelligent" Gifts

As seen in House Beautiful:


Juliska's Cornerstone Collection Love Tray

(3" square)

According to Juliska, their goal was to add emotionally intelligent gifts to their product line: "gifts that are inspirational" and "celebrate the cornerstore values of a life well lived."

Perfect for earrings, cufflinks, or just as a decorative keepsake.

But what we think is the most emotionally intelligent part is the price: $20.

Great for Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why We Stuff

New Vera is here!
(you can see now why we stuff them all!)
Four fresh new colors, updated and premiering styles
Signature, Stationery & Microfiber
Available now.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Etiquette: The Art of the Thank You

It's that time of year: you've reaped the benefits of the holiday season and now it's time to show your gratitude with a thank you note. So often, the thank you note is something to be done, crossed off the list, gotten over with. But a thank you note is really so much more than that -- it's a chance to show your gratitude, to go on record and really acknowledge the act of giving. In this day and age of email and texts, the thank you note is an opportunity to personally craft something tangible and real. The best thank you notes will be re-read and sometimes even shared by the recipient (think of grandmothers who share thank you notes from their granchildren with their friends). But so often these days, thank you notes end up being boring form letters.

Here are some tips that we've pulled together for making thank you note writing feel more like an art and less like a homework assignment:

  • Write it, don't email it. Don't you get a little jolt of pleasure when you open your mailbox and find that rare, handwritten note inside? Share this little delight with your receipient by mailing your note instead of emailing it.
  • Use distincitve paper. Folded notes and stationery that reflect your personality elevate the thank you note writing process to more than just a menial task. Good paper feels good to write on. As one etiquette book states "the quality of your communication takes on the quality of the paper upon which it is written."* Distinctive stationery makes reading your note that much more enjoyable and exceptional for your recipient too.
  • Use your favorite pen. We all have one -- a pen that fits nicely in your hand, writes smoothly, and makes your handwriting look lovely (or at least legible!).
  • Make it memorable! Use adjectives that sparkle and shine as much as the gift. The goal is to craft something that relays the emotion you felt when you received the item or the joy you get when you use or look at it. Here's an excerpt from one of our personal favorites from an in-town relative: "Do I ever tell you how much I adore the bamboo towels? Scrumptious! And each day, soap opera time, lying under the soft, soft throw blanket -- someday, I may never get up. Come bring me supper!"
  • Even if the gift wasn't perfect or even something you'll keep, focus on the act of giving as you write your thank you note. Keep in mind, "the manner of giving is worth more than the gift."**
  • Get it done. The sooner you write your thank you notes, the sooner you can truly enjoy the gifts.

Above all, let your personality and gratitude shine through. Remember, "feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."*** Make your thank you note a little bit like a wrapped present in return.

Double Your Thank You Note Order
When you order 25 or more notes
Through Jan 31st, 2010

Three Designing Women
Customized Address Stamps

* Baldridge, Letitia. Letitia Baldridge's New Manners for New Times; A Complete Guide to Etiquette.
**Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur
***William A. Ward

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