National Cherry Dessert Day and Sour Cherries

red cherries

Among the more obscure nationally proclaimed holidays, were you aware of the day set aside to celebrate cherry desserts? Well there is one! For most of us, that means the tart fruits of the sour cherry tree, the  Prunus cerasus. The pie cherry has been consumed since prehistoric times. The earliest record of the cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, the country now known as Turkey.

Romans introduced cherries into Britain before the 1st century AD, where they became very popular in the time of Henry VIII.

the sour cherry tree
Botanical details of the sour cherry tree.

In America, Massachusetts colonists planted the first sour cherry, ‘Kentish Red’, and they have since become a much loved fruit here. That variety of cherry tree may even have been the one in the famous legend of George Washington, who knows?

Whatever its history, it is the flavor that assures ongoing popularity, and reigns supreme in every type of dessert. For your own celebration, whether on the official day or not, some well loved recipes are included in this post along with the surprising health benefits and a bit of trivia about the fruits themselves.

May 26

It’s a National Holiday for Tart Pie Cherries in Desserts

Even though cherries seasonally ripen in June, the Presidents Day holiday gives February the honor of being named “National Cherry Month”.

luscious cherries
They are tart, or sour, cherries from the tree Prunus cerasus. Their tartness makes them preeminent for the flavor they give baked goodies like cherry pie, cobblers, and other well loved recipes we remember from our mothers and grandmother’s kitchens.

While sweet cherries, from the Prunus avium tree, are best chosen for fresh eating, nothing beats a pie cherry for any recipe that calls for cherries for cooking.

Pie cherries with their tart and tangy taste create the zing that ignites a plain fruit pie into a memorable sweet summer surprise of flavor. Just the right contrast to the flaky crust of a home baked pie, or the biscuit topping of a cobbler.

Those “down home” desserts are only two of the ways you can use pie cherries to give your table a treat in the early summer month of June, or during other times of the year if you freeze or preserve the the cherries.

Tart Cherries Have Health Benefits

Health benefits of pie cherries include the fact that they have anti-oxidants.

 

  1. * Promotes circulation
  2. * May help you sleep better due to the melatonin content
  3. * Helps relieve migraine headaches
  4. * Helps prevent free radical damage
  5. * Helps you heal faster from muscle related sports injuries

 

Facts about Pie Cherries

Life's story on cherries

 

  • Pie cherries keep their bright red color when cooked, naturally
  • Sour cherries, like the sweet, are picked ripe
  • Look for cherries that are plump and brightly colored, cherries do not ripen off the tree.
  • Store in the refrigerator and rinse just before using
  • Cherries are highly perishable: Their shelf life is about four days in the refrigerator.
  • Cherries can be frozen
  • They may reduce the risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
  • 20 cherries a day might keep the gout away.

Of course there are even more cherry facts:

Cherries are one of the foods least often associated with food allergies according to World’s Healthiest Foods.

Findings on Remedying Gout

They are good for preventing gout. It is said, “six cherries a day” will keep the gout away, and it is certainly a delicious remedy to try. Research indicates that cherries have urate lowering properties. Uric acid crystal buildup is indicated in the onset of gout. (This is not medical advice, but information about the research results on the benefits of tart cherries).

More Reason to Love the Tartness

Tart cherries have fewer calories and more beta-carotene than sweet cherries

dessert cherries

Additional Health Benefits

Tart cherries are loaded with antioxidants that are believed to relieve the pain of arthritis and gout and help fight cancer and heart disease.

At more than 12,000 ORAC units per hundred grams of fruit, cherries have a higher antioxidant capacity than grapes, oranges, plums, raspberries and strawberries combined.

They’re also especially high in the antioxidant melatonin, which may help prevent or reduce brain deterioration associated with aging. And to top it off, they’re high in vitamin A and beta-carotene. [1]

Did you know? Dried cherries are made from the tart cherry variety. They have iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as some melatonin- which is a hormone important biologically.

The Celebrated Pie Cherry

  • Most tart cherries are grown in the state of Michigan in the USA. Traverse City, Michigan is called the “Cherry Capital of the World” and is host to the National Cherry Festival.
  • In Australia, the New South Wales town of Young is called the “Cherry Capital of Australia” and hosts the National Cherry Festival of Australia.
  • Fun Facts About Cherries: Cherry pits have been found in Stone Age caves.
  • Thomas Jefferson, grew cherries on his plantation at Monticello

Harvest Season

Tart cherries ripen two or three weeks after sweet cherries. Look for them in mid to late July.

The Dessert Side of the Story

Desserts are made of this
Cherries are good for you, but all that cream, sugar, and pastry? Maybe not so much… but the taste!
Besides pie, cobbler, or cherry dump cake, how can you fix this fruit as a dessert? Healthier choices to enjoy as desserts.

    Try cherries

  • with yogurt
  • with sherbet or gelato
  • baked into oatmeal

Because of their tartness, most people will want to sweeten them, which makes them ideal for desserts.

classic latticed pie
classic latticed pie

Prepare Your Pie Cherries with Professional Quality Cherry Pitter

During the season when stone fruits are available, you may be buying fresh produce. In order to use them in desserts, it is necessary to remove the pits. If you have ever tried this, you know how much a kitchen gadget makes all the difference.

If you are going to pit lots of cherries this is a professional style of machine to make the job easy. Highly rated and recommended.

Fun for Cherry Dessert Day

Wear a cherry patterned apron, bake a cherry pie or make some quick and easy cherry cobbler to celebrate the day.
May 26

photo by Rusty Clark
Cherry cobbler | photo by Rusty Clark
Cherry Cobbler, Classic Recipe
Print Recipe
Cherry cobbler is like an easy, messy cherry pie, but that yummy topping soaking in the juices is what makes it such a well beloved dessert cousin of the cherry pie. Emeril uses cinnamon, but I suggest experimenting with mace or cardamom - two spices that complement the cherry flavor extremely well.
Servings Prep Time
8  15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Servings Prep Time
8  15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Cherry Cobbler, Classic Recipe
Print Recipe
Cherry cobbler is like an easy, messy cherry pie, but that yummy topping soaking in the juices is what makes it such a well beloved dessert cousin of the cherry pie. Emeril uses cinnamon, but I suggest experimenting with mace or cardamom - two spices that complement the cherry flavor extremely well.
Servings Prep Time
8  15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Servings Prep Time
8  15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
TOPPING:
FILLING:
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a saucepan combine filling ingredients and cook, stirring until bubbling and thickened. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until it is crumbly.
  4. Mix together egg and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir with a fork just until combined. Drop topping by tablespoonfuls onto filling.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes until browned and bubbly.
Recipe Notes

Emeril's rendition of a classic

Share this Recipe

 

 

Alternative Cherry Pitter Choice
Leifheit 37200 Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher Container | Cherry Stone Remover Tool

Leifheit 37200 Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher Container | Cherry Stone Remover Tool

A cherry is a fruit with a hard seed pit which must be removed before using the cherries in baked goods. There are a number of types of gadgets to do the job, which is important to own if you have a large number of cherries to prepare.

 

Cherry Delight Cake

Yield: 8

Cherry Delight Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine- melted
  • 1 egg -beaten
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen pitted tart or "pie" cherries- lightly drained (reserve 1 cup juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts -walnut | pecans | or hazelnuts
    Cherry Sauce (see recipe)
  • 1 cup cherry juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, combine butter or margarine, egg, sour cherries, almond extract, and nuts: add to flour mixture.
  4. Bake, uncovered, in an ungreased 9-inch square pan 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cut into squares.
    Prepare Cherry Sauce.
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cherry juice, cornstarch, sugar, almond extract, and butter or margarine
  2. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Serve the Cherry Delight Cake with Hot Cherry Sauce and whipped cream.

 

February is…

National Cherry Month

A Look at the Harvest

Fennel and Rosemary Beef Tenderloin, Dinner Holiday Menu

beef tenderloin

Christmas Dinner At My House

christmas dinner

Every year, and it is my hope to continue, it is our tradition to have a big family meal together on Christmas Eve.

We keep certain foods on our menu because they are something that say “Christmas” to us in a special way, but we also change around the menu occasionally to include new dishes for excitement.

I want to share some of the foods we love with you, and the menus we have enjoyed as a family.

Sharing the holiday meal together is one of the most treasured ways we have celebrated Christmas.

Toys break, sweaters get stretched out and worn, games are forgotten in a drawer, but memories of enjoying a special meal stay woven within our hearts. Foods that create a part of a celebration together are an important part of that experience.

Dream Of An Old Time Christmas?

Memorable recipes are a time honored way to create a special experience that combines tradition, nostalgic memories, and fresh new excitement into your celebration.

The act of sitting around a table that is decked out in a beautiful setting is quite an unusual thing for many of us. Making it simple, special, and homey recalls old time ways of gathering family together for a memorable meal.

Eating Our Christmas Dinner
pear/pomegranate salad
Our first course fo pear/pomegranate salad.

A Festive Christmas Menu

While it is my favorite for Christmas Eve dinner, consider this meal for special times from New Years Ever to Valentines day, and beyond. Anytime you wish to have something to impress your family and guests.
Simply customize the serving amounts.

So what’s on the menu this year?

  • Fennel and Rosemary Beef Tenderloin
  • German style fingerling potatoes
  • Pear and Pomegranate Salad
  • For Dessert: purchased cream puffs and warm fudge sauce
  • Cardamom Rolls

(The Cardamom roll recipe is long, and it takes some time to make, but it is worth it. I’ve had it online with other Christmas recipes I make….)

Why Choose Beef Tenderloin for the Main Course?

Tenderloin is very easy to cook

An expensive cut of meat, but we only have it once a year! An expensive cut of meat, but we only have it once a year!

I know this cut of meat is costly, but if you remember that it is boneless, easy to fix (hard to mess up), and everyone loves it… you might want to consider it as your Christmas dinner menu centerpiece.

It is usually accompanied with a cranberry relish for Christmas, but I sometimes skip that dish , depending on the rest of the menu.

We always have a fruit and a green salad. A side dish of potatoes, sweet potatoes, or noodles is usual; and we always always have the Cardamom rolls that I make only for Christmas Eve.

 

Follow the link for Cardamom Rolls.

Or learn more about the spice, All About Cardamom.[/one_half_last]

 

Holiday plate
Holiday colors

Fennel and Rosemary Beef Tenderloin

This has become our family’s all-time favorite, and the entrée I now make for Christmas dinner. One of the things I like about it is the ease and relatively short cooking time involved.

Make Ahead Tip

The roast can be seasoned and refrigerated up to 4 hours before roasting.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fennel seed, ground
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly cracked
  • 2 -1/2- to 3-lb. beef tenderloin roast, with excess fat trimmed
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. How to make…
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, fennel seed, salt, and pepper. Stir to make a paste.
  4. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and rub the paste all over the surface of the meat. If necessary, tie the roast at 1-1/2-inch intervals.
  5. Put the roast on a rack on a small, rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 120 °F for rare, 125 ° to 130 °F for medium rare,or 135 °F for medium, 40 to 50 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, mustard, and lemon juice. Season lightly with salt to taste.
  7. Transfer the roast to a carving board (preferably with a well for collecting juices) and let it rest, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes before carving it into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve the beef, passing the mustard sauce at the table.
  8. The original recipe was from Fine Cooking magazine.
  9. ————–
  10. I found it difficult to locate the ground fennel, and ended up using a spice grinder to grind up the fennel seeds, myself. since I was able to find containers of Devon cream in the store I used that to replace the crème fraîche.
Crème Fraiche

1 ½ cups whipping cream

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) buttermilk

Combine cream and buttermilk in a jar with tight fitting lid. Shake well for 2 or 3 minutes. Let stand at warm room temperature for at least 24 hours. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Besides being used for the beef:

Use it as a dessert topping, too. Very good added to vinegar and oil dressings. Delicious over fresh fruit and berries.

How To Cook A Beef Tenderloin

If you have never prepared this roast for a meal before, you may gain confidence from viewing the how-to video.

German-style Fingerling Potatoes

German style fingerling potatoes
This is an easy recipe to make, for something a bit more involved, but extremely tasty, try Fine Cooking’s Glazed Fingerling Potato Salad with Pancetta and Warm Mustard Vinaigrette. This was the original recipe I used;  if you have the time it is excellent with the beef.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30-40 minutes

Serves: 6 (6 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. halved fingerling potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp.olive oil
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • a little chopped parsley
  • bacon can be substituted for the proscuitto

Instructions

  1. Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water over medium high heat until almost tender, 5 to 8 minutes, drain.
  2. Sauté prosciutto in oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until crisp, 5 minutes -or the bacon cut into pieces. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Return pan back to burner, add vinegar and sugar and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add potatoes, simmer 4 to 5 minutes, then stir in prosciutto (bacon bits), add parsley, season with salt and pepper. Garnish with scallions.

Pear and Pomegranate Salad

– Refreshing, Colorful, and Easy

pear pomegranate salad
Pear-Pomegranate salad

This is one of my all time favorites. It is fancy looking with its creamy white pears, ruby red pomegranate seeds, and deep pink syrup sauce, yet quite simple.

Ingredients

  • 3 pears thinly sliced – two red pears and one Asian
  • 1 pomegranate seeded
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)
  • dark green lettuce leaves

Instructions

  1. Place the sliced pears and pomegranate seeds into a bowl.
  2. Toss with lemon juice to coat.
  3. Combine the brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a small cup or bowl, then mix into the fruit.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to blend the flavors.
  5. Serve in individual dishes on a bed of lettuce greens, and garnish with a sprinkling of sliced almonds with a sprig of mint
  • Cook time: 20 min
  • Ready in: 20 min

Whole Green Beans – Simply delicious

  • 3/4 lb whole green beans
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

Instructions

fancy whole green beans
fancy whole green beans
  1. Fill a bowl with ice water.
  2. Cook beans in a large pot of salted boiling water just until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain beans and transfer to ice water. Drain well in a colander and pat dry.
  3. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté beans with mustard and salt and pepper to taste, stirring, until heated through, about 4 minutes.

Recipe from Epicurious which is closest to how I make these simple green beans.

Pioneer Woman Talks about Holiday Foods

Some of my best holiday recipes and serving ideas have come from special holiday cookbooks. They are inspirational and come in a wide variety of cuisines to cater to every tradition and taste.

Once I found a set of menus that my family really enjoyed we rotated them through the years. We always seem to have a few things that we can’t do without for our holiday repast… usually the sweet potatoes and Waldorf salad (and of course, my Cardamom rolls).

Christmas Holiday Cookbooks


Christmas Entertaining (Williams-Sonoma)

This is a book of inspirations for all types of holiday meals and party fare. It includes the menus plus the decorating ideas and everything needed to make it a time to remember.

How to decorate the table festively and work plans to make everything happen without a hitch.

Holiday Settings – Festive Table Trimmings

Christmas Oldtime Dinner

Whether it is a few hand-picked pieces or an entire set of china dedicated to the trimmings of the season, it really brightens the table setting to have plates or serving pieces with iconic Christmas trees, bright ribbons, or snow scenes. Spode and Lennox are just a few of the companies which are famous for Yuletide dinnerware designs.

My sister has a complete set of dinnerware for the season, while I tend to pick up bowls and platters from after Christmas sales. They add a cheering note of pretty color to my all-white stoneware. When fixing a special meal like beef tenderloin, this servingware really showcases the special foods, economically.

Christmas table setting
Christmas table setting

 

Pretty dishes that are perfect for holiday dinners make the table part of the annual tradition. I always loved to see certain cups and dishes that were reserved for special family times on my grandmother’s table.

Spode Christmas Tree 12-Piece Dinnerware Set, Service for 4

Spode Christmas Tree 12-Piece Dinnerware Set, Service for 4

Set a festive table with this fine dinnerware perfect for the Christmas season. Made by one of the best names in fine pottery.

 

Not Christmas Yet?

 

When first writing this, it was far from Christmas time. For Christmas aficionados I know no apologies are necessary. Some people (like me!) are only too delighted for an excuse to plan the upcoming Christmas celebration.

Originally published by Ilona Erwin on 05/10/11

Create a Memory with a Gingerbread House

simple gingerbread house

Christmas season is upon us, and one of the delightful things about this season is the many opportunities it holds for making lasting good memories.

Christmastime gingerbread houses
Two handmade gingerbread houses

Gingerbread House Memories

Creating a gingerbread house is one traditional, and super fun way to pull in many of our favorite things: the delicious aroma of the gingerbread, the visions of sugarplums in the form of applied candies, creating things in miniature. It is whimsical, homey, and has a touch of fantasy all at once.

The amount of time and work involved depends solely on the choice of the maker, nowadays. We once had to bake all the gingerbread parts and assemble them carefully, but today with the many kits available it is quick and simple.

Of course, the kits are lacking in the creativity and detail of expert bake and craft mavens, but their easiness and convenience make a premier craft activity for children.

My mother and I made some of the home baked gingerbread houses in my youth. I still remember decorating upside down cones with icing and candies for the Christmas trees outside the house. We used “Necco” candies for roof tiles… it was quite an undertaking! But you see, here I am, a sixty something grandmother, with vivid and happy memories of that Christmas project of long ago.

Kits Make It Easy

More recently, when the grandchildren were here, I had purchased a kit for them to do up in the manner they wished. Everything was included and the work was quick, which suited the schedule and their attention spans. The result was no piece of artwork, but it was immense fun!

I plan to do the same this year. They can take more time, but for the short time they are here, the simplicity of a ready-made kit is ideal.

There are so many options, from plain cookie and icing ones available at Ikea to more traditional ones from Wilton online, or at most Walmart stores. I see them offered in many stores!

Of course, if you plan to eat your project, I would definitely make them from scratch.  There used to be a page online that was the most complete set of directions. I have a recipe and edited some of the instructions included with it for making your own from scratch.

gingerbread house
Gingerbread
Print Recipe
gingerbread house
Gingerbread
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. TO MIX GB DOUGH: Pour melted Crisco into mixer bowl. Let cool slightly; add sugar and Karo, blending well. Add eggs, mixing all until smooth and creamy. Add salt, baking soda and spices into mixture and begin to add flour, just a little at a time. Knead the flour in when dough becomes too stiff for the mixer. DON'T HURRY THIS STEP! Continue adding as much flour as the dough will absorb.
  2. TO ROLL OUT DOUGH: Lightly grease baking pans. Roll the dough out, lay pattern pieces on, and cut the desired shapes. Leave a 1" space between each piece so they won't bake together. Remove the excess dough and the pattern pieces.
  3. WINDOWS: Must be cut before baking. You can add crushed hard candy for "a stained glass look." Use "sour ball" candies. Crush them with a hammer before unwrapping the pieces. If pieces bake together, cut them apart immediately after removing from oven, while house parts are still hot and soft. Bake house pieces at 375 degrees for 5-8 minutes. Pieces should not brown. Again, slide the cardboard back under the foil to remove the baked house pieces from the oven. Cool on flat surface.
Recipe Notes

ASSEMBLY: To "glue" house together

1. Use a very sturdy tray or 2-3 cardboards to set the house on. Cover cardboard with FDA foil or white freezer paper!.
Three 14" round cardboards together work well for this size house.
2. Using #5 tip in decorator bag, back of house first; pipe out icing on each side-edge of back. Stand the back house piece up and place one side at a time against the back of house. Prop with cans of soup, etc, if it doesn't stay firmly together. Or hold it for a few moments, until house feels like it is staying together.
3. Place icing up the front edges of standing sides. Add house front section. Let dry for 10-15 minutes, then add roof and chimney.
4. Decorate with desired candies using royal icing to hold decorations on.
5. Do "landscaping" last. Let dry and store covered away from dust.

Christmas Ornament Cookies

Before baking the cookie, use a straw to punch a hole to tie a string through. Add the string before baking.
"TREES" can be added on the "lawn" made of ice cream cones, decorating tip #67 or 352. While icing is still wet, sprinkle on multi-colored sugar decorations.
Window shutters for the house can be of gingerbread or candies. Sugar wafer cookies also make nice shutters.

Put a Light in It?

A single tiny light bulb on a chord - the type ceramics shops have - can be inserted through a hole in the bottom of the cardboard your house sits on. This hole must be cut before assembly.

*recipes and directions from Dolores Inlow McCann. Her wonderful site is gone, but her helpful hints remain.

Share this Recipe

Whether you decide to make your own cookie construction in your kitchen, or assemble a simple store bought one, this is a wonderful activity to add some priceless memories this Christmas.

Adorable Diaper Bags

mommy and baby photo
mommy and baby prepared for all contingencies.

 

Feel Adorable While Carting All That Baby Gear

Diaper bags have really grown up. They are fun and fashionable and made by the best brands. Here is your ticket to finding the best travel with baby diaper bags – you will look and feel fashionable and organized with these gorgeous diaper bag choices.

Nothing helps more than a great diaper bag that is all packed with the essentials – you just pick up and go anywhere with your baby, knowing all the important things are covered for your outing.

Featuring The Cutest, Most Fashionable Baby Gear Bags

Roomy backpack style
Roomy backpack style to free your arms for baby and to redistribute weight more evenly.

 

The Adorable Diaper Bag Gallery

(For convenience, affiliate links to Amazon)

Look for some of these brands when out shopping…

Timi and Leslie

Why choose a diaper bag by Timi and Leslie? Well, you could because Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Courtney Cox, Nicole Kidman, and Faith Hill do; or maybe because you want something stylish that has all the necessary pockets for everything to make your life easier.

Either way it is a good choice.

Maman Stylish Designer Tote


Roomy with pockets for everything. Waterproof with multiple ways to carry: hand held, strap, and attach to stroller.

 

Kate Spade Designs Are Gorgeous.

 

 

Carter’s Zebra Diaper Tote with Green Accent

The Bumble Collection All in One

When I started having grandchildren join the family circle, I was amazed at how darling all the baby things are that my daughters and daughter-in-laws have in their nurseries. The diaper bag selection is just mind boggling in both style and choices.

These make wonderful baby shower gifts.

Storksak

There are so many, many fabulous diaper bag choices that I don’t envy anyone having to choose, but one brand stands out in the reviews and that is Storksak, because it looks great, carries all the gear, and is lightweight. All good qualities of a diaper bag that will make mommy happy.

…and you know what they say about the importance of that!

What to Stash Inside

What's in my bag?

WHAT GOES INSIDE A DIAPER BAG?

  • all the baby diaper essential,
  • extra clothes,
  • feeding paraphernalia,
  • special things for breastfeeding,
  • a burp cloth,
  • a receiving blanket,

Play keys (so you don’t end up giving your yucky set of car keys to quiet them)

Most of today’s bags come with changing pads included.

Sometimes I felt like I was moving half my nursery items everywhere I went. But a a well stocked diaper bag can mean the difference between a successful shopping trip or a happy outing and the alternative.

Now, all that roominess is stylish- no more blocky bags with the drab vinyl prints.

Pack It

Great Gift For A Mom

Great Gift for a Mom

 

Designers Make Diaper Bags Look Chic

And you look absolutely adorable

Everyone wants to create diaper bags, it seems, and some of the best designers have put their talents towards stylish bags to make taking baby out and about a fashion affair.

A Lineup of Cute Diaper Bags

Kate Spade in Adorable Black and White – Take it Everywhere!

Her name is known for fun, modern, and chic design. No one will think this is a frumpy diaper bag. Instead it looks like a fashionable tote, but with all the room you need for special baby gear.

Go Artsy

 

What To Look For In A Diaper Bag

It depends on you

  • One of the features of a diaper bag is the way you can just grab and go- without thinking about what to pack and perhaps forgetting an important item. You don’t want to run out of wipes, or that extra binkie when you need it.
  • Consider a versatile style, one that goes with most of what you wear.
  • Lots of use=lots of wear, is the material your diaper bag is made of up for the task? You will give it more wear than usual.
  • Washable? Hard wearing, constructed well?
  • Throwing lots of gear over your shoulder should not get you down. You will also be carrying your baby. Maybe you just want room for essentials in your every day diaper bag, and a second larger bag for travel.
  • Got nice shoulder padding? Wide, non-slip shoulder straps
  • Do you really want to carry both a diaper bag and a purse? Not really.
  • Look for a place to stow your cell phone, and attach your keys, a place for your organizer and wallet as well as insulated bottle holders

Don’t Leave Daddy Out – Mommy Likes This

 

Well, that’s my wrap up of some of the best looking diaper totes out there, did you like them? Was this helpful?

Adorable Gifts for New Moms

Welcome to Super Gift Guide Ideas for New Moms!

new mom
new mom Victoria Johnson Photography

Know a new mom? Surprise her with something really thoughtful – it will mean so much!

Here are some adorable ideas to make her the happiest holiday mommy (besides that cute bundle of joy, of course!).

It isn’t just the gift, but the encouragement, the warm supportive feeling of a gesture that helps celebrate one of the high points in a woman’s life: becoming a mother.

Celebrate with her!

A few ideas: tasty treats, relaxing cup of tea, encouragement

Celebrate Motherhood – Celebrate The New Mom!

The birth of a baby is one of the major landmarks of life. Help a new mommy celebrate with gifts that show her that you share her joy, and here are suggestions that any new mother would love.

There is such a broad spectrum of ways to show a new mom that you care.

  • mothering help
  • inspirational gifts
  • indulgent food
  • mothercare products
  • music for soothing baby
  • personal items to wear
  • keepsakes in a mother/child theme
  • mother themed art
  • flowers
  • gift basket

Hidden in My Heart (A Lullaby Journey Through Scripture)

Hidden in My Heart (A Lullaby Journey Through Scripture)

I love these soothing songs, and you and your baby will, too.

When you are a new mom there is nothing you wish for more than some extra rest, and while it doesn’t guarantee that your baby will sleep, lullabies do help. Peaceful melodies create a calm atmosphere.

 

A Mother

“There is no velvet so soft as a mother’s lap, no rose as lovely as her smile, no path so flowery as that imprinted with her footsteps”~

~ Archibald Thompson ~

Choose the purpose of your gift:

  • Do you wish to inspire her?
  • Pamper the new mom
  • Make her feel important and special
  • Help her feel capable and a better mom

What is your wish for her… and what makes her feel special… combine the answer to those two things and you have found the perfect gift.

Make a New Mommy Feel Special – Give her something thoughtful and sweet

new mother
gifts for new mothers

It Can Be Little, It Might Cost Nothing

Give something adorable to help her feel that way!

It can be a time of wonderful ups, but certainly a few lows after you have your new baby… and most of the lows center about how you feel about your attractiveness. Your clothes don’t fit, and you are tired of wearing maternity outfits. You just plain feel tired… and that promises to be for the near foreseeable future. Besides all that, you have worked pretty hard… you need something that makes you feel pampered, and special, and yes, adorable again.

These gifts don’t have to be lavish, they can be small and thoughtful.

They don’t need to be expensive, they can be something homemade, a jar of jam with a special message, flowers from the garden, or a fresh picked bowl of berries. Just make sure their message is that the new mom is thought of and cherished.

Your Experience

The perfect book is available on Amazon. Affiliate link.
The perfect book is available on Amazon. Affiliate link to buy it today. Source: Sally Placksin
Mothering the New Mother: Your Postpartum Resource Companion The perfect book is available on Amazon. Affiliate link.

That is how she feels, and now what are we going to do about it? I know how I felt when, right after my new baby arrived, I was given a few special gifts just for me. Wonderful! Elated, even. It is just such a nice and unexpected thing.

What would make her feel special? Maybe a new, pretty Bathrobe.

May your day be filled with gigglesanonymous

Beautiful Mother And Child Art

 

mother and child
art, mother and child

Inspirational, Soul Lifting Stories – Give Her A Little Chicken Soup

… for her soul, that is. Perfect to read during feeding times, as a perky pick up for the day.

The “Chicken Soup” collection of books is famous for a reason: everyone needs a little nurturing now and then.

There is something about a well told story, especially when it is soul lifting and heart warming. Provide a little chicken soup just when someone needs it most by putting a book of favorite quotes and stories into their hands- there when they need it.

Joy, Love, and Wonder

Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms: 101 Inspirational Stories of Joy, Love, and Wonder

Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms: 101 Inspirational Stories of Joy, Love, and Wonder

Happy and Joyful Thoughts

Sometimes a mom just wants to revel in the sweet thoughts that celebrate this new chapter in life… Chicken Soup books always uplift, and serve a gift of this book with a bowl of the real thing- homemade chicken soup from your kitchen.

How adorable of you!

Gallery of New Mommies – An age old story, a brand new chapter

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.anonymous2

You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once.Polish Proverb

A Sweet Picture – Willow Family Sculpture Figurine


Willow Tree Our Gift

What a sweet commemoration of this wonderful event- the addition of your new baby into your family circle!

Sometimes We Need A Little Encouragement – Daily Guide To Inspire A New Mother

Loving is feelings, but loving is also a lot of little things and this guide will inspire you to increase you love vocabulary as a new mom. “What the world needs now is love,sweet love” – we can always use a little more.

A Bundle of Joy! Yes, yours! This for that new little one in your life. Natural products that you can feel good about using.

Burts Bees Products are darling gifts – natural new mom gifts for her and for baby

New mommy gifts

<img src=”http://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/11731793_f520.jpg” alt=”” width=”520″ height=”520″ data-original=”http://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/11731793_f520.jpg” />

Source: Gustav Klimpt
Source: Gustav Klimpt

Moms Love Stuff for Their Babies, Too

For Baby:

Will the gift make it easier to take care of the baby, does it create good feeling for a new mom? Give her a little luxury or something that helps the mommy baby bond.

Breastfeeding Help – Why not make up a basket to lend encouragement?

We all know that breastfeeding is better for both the new mother and the baby, but sometimes there are challenges that create barriers to success- not always, but the new mom can use some help and would love these thoughtful gifts for making everything a little smoother.

Beautiful Lullabies – Soothing music for new mommy and baby moments

Super Diaper Bags – Fashionable and Fun

Petunia Picklebottom and More! If you love this idea, be sure to check out some of the fabulous choices in Adorable Diaper Bags

Time for a Spa Treatment

No time for a Manicure?

If you have the skills, give her a manicure, here’s how:

Pamper Her Hands And Feet | Prettiest Nail Polishes

If you don’t have the time, but have the money… give a gift card to a salon for the service. Still not what you had in mind?

How about…

Creamy hand lotion is the next best thing to a full manicure session at the salon.
A gift certificate for her favorite spa treatment (pedicures are especially nice), and arrangements to watch the baby.

Which Gift Is Most Adorable?

The Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Children

 

Of all the many things lobbed at us as parents, we are told a long laundry list of what we should give our children. From the esoteric to the practical, it is promised that if we but give our child … time, morals teaching, discipline, music lessons, the right school, no school, good examples, the best *you name it*… if we only give that, our child will be happy and successful.

We all want our children to be happy and successful. And it is there that we are hooked into the method, the gift, the lifestyle, whatever it is that has promised us this holy grail of parenting.

But the harder truth is that it is a recipe of many things, that translate as love and guidance, which become tools and guideposts for the hardest truth of all: that each child must make his/her own way through life. Just as we all must.

Are There No “Must-Have” Gifts?

That is not to say that some tools and ingredients in life are not imperative. Just because people may compensate and manage without a good start in life does not mean it is fine to ignore their inclusion.

What Should We Give Our Children?

Here is the short list:

  • Love and Security
  • Training in life skills and good character examples
  • Education, love of reading, love of learning

The methods are many, and none of these requirements in life demand lots of money.

If we give these things to our children, to the best of our ability, they can face the world well prepared. Even if we fail in some of the most important  ways, the resilience of the human race shows that often they can make up for the lack. For children, it is very important to see that the parents made the effort: that they tried their best on behalf of the child.

Is This A Secret Shortcut?

I wonder if instilling a love of books isn’t a secret shortcut to the twin efforts of training and having a love of learning? After all, great literature is a way to pass on important values, cultural traditions, and an appreciation of good character through the power of storytelling. It also teaches the ability to think about the big questions of life and engage critical thinking patterns.

All this starts at an early age with reading.

I’m Biased

As one who loves to read books, I have to say I am biased about their impact. Literature has always spoken so much to me, and certain fiction has molded my thinking in life long ways. I believe in its power to do so for others, including our children.

If we want to change the culture, providing time tested writings is surely one powerful and efficacious way to do it.

What Books Ought To Be On The Shelf?


Start with a list of classic children’s selections I collated. (That page includes info on why reading is so important, creating a reading nook, and the best of the classic books that my own children loved).

These are 20 great character-building books

For various age groups:

  1. Aesop’s Fables, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney -very young readers
  2. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats-very young readers
  3. James Herriot’s Treasury For Children, by James Herriot -very young readers
  4. The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh – 3rd to 4th grade
  5. Stuart Little, by E.B. White – 3rd to 4th grade
  6. Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink – 3rd to 4th grade
  7. The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, by Alice Dalgliesh – 3rd to 4th grade
  8. The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – 3rd to 4th grade
  9. Brighty of the Grand Canyon, Marguerite Henry – 3rd to 4th grade
  10. Treasures of the Snow, by Patricia St. John – 3rd to 4th grade
  11. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery – 5th to 6th grade
  12. Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell – 5th to 6th grade
  13. Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  14. Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  15. Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  16. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  17. Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls – 5th to 6th grade (especially boys)
  18. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott – 5th to 6th grade (especially girls)
  19. The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – 5th to 6th grade
  20. The Chronicles of Narnia (all 7 books), by C.S. Lewis – 5th to 6th grade

 

15 Important Books for Older Children to Adult

  1. The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
  2. David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
  3. Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
  4. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  5. Ben Hur, by Lew Wallace
  6. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  7. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
  8. The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  9. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
  10. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  11. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  12. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  13. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  14. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  15. 1984 by George Orwell
Pin Great Book List
Pin me

Holidays: Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

vintage thanksgiving card

Bring children into the the celebration of Thanksgiving with one of their favorite activities, coloring. If you have a printer these simple pictures can provide a quiet time in the midst of meal preparations.

How did Thanksgiving become a National Holiday?

Sara Hale tirelessly advocated for a National Thanksgiving holiday. Source: Richards Free Library
Sara Hale tirelessly advocated for a National Thanksgiving holiday.
Source: Richards Free Library

A woman named Sarah Hale, editor of the famous Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine, spearheaded a move to enshrine observation of thankfulness in the nation. She wrote to five presidents and numerous governors in her campaign for a Thanksgiving Day.

Hale is largely responsible for the idealistic, somewhat fictional view that Americans today hold in regards to interactions of these first New England colonists and the native peoples. Her picture of this feast with tables laden with turkey, stuffing, many dishes and gravies caught on with Victorian readers.

Godey’s Lady’s Book menu suggestions outlined what we consider a traditional holiday menu, today. How-to and recipes were provided to complete the celebration.

In keeping with her vision of this holiday, pictures here include those that represent parts of the meal, the idea of what the meal was like, how the English and Indian guests were believed to have dressed, and of course, the fat turkey.

Many of this things are now known to have little historical basis, but they are icons of the American Thanksgiving Holiday. I hope you will have fun coloring the ones you download and print.

 

Themes

Centering around food, family, and gratefulness, Thanksgiving has ready-made themes. American Indians, native foods of pumpkin and corn, turkey and trimmings, pie…. it is a cornucopia of fun coloring with a bit of history.

Food Concepts of Hunger and Plenty

cherry pie pic
Pie is the American idea of a dessert dish served at holidays. This is a cherry pie, but pumpkin is the most popular choice.
corncob
Corn, a native food staple helped the new Colonists to survive.

 

cornucopia coloring picture
Cornucopia is symbol of “plenty”
download a PDF coloring page

History, Pilgrims and American Indians

The story changes depending on who tells it and when, but certain facts are undeniable. One is that without the help and instruction of the Natives of the land, the Pilgrims were likely to fail. They greatly suffered from lack of food, and the Indians corn was a Godsend.

Pumpkins, maize, and wild turkeys were some of the bounties of this land where the Pilgrims landed.

The sharing of a feast is a symbol of the peaceful meeting of diverse people and cultures.

peacepipe

indian canoe

puritans

Who Were The Pilgrims?

In their native England they were dissenters against the prevailing religious establishment. Braving a journey to an unknown land was worth it to be able to practice their beliefs freely.

When traveling to the new world they came in the company of those wishing to settle for different reasons. The fellow travelers were called “strangers” by their more religious comrades.

Who Were The Wampanoag?

This was the Indian tribe which interacted with the Pilgrims in the original feast. Also called the Massasoit, they had a tradition that all the male leaders should be invited to village feasts. Thus 98 surprise guests turned up at this all-male meal. No worries, though… they came with plenty of meat to supply the tables.

The original celebration lasted three days.

The name means “People of the First Light” since they were situated at the eastern coastal region of the continent. This was a large confederation of tribal villages.

deer coloring pic

The Wampanoag later came into conflict with the English and suffered great loss from disease with the remnants of their people being sold into slavery, many to the Caribbean islands; but their early relations with the colonists were helpful and supportive. The famous “Squanto” was part of this tribal group:

Tisquantum and other Wampanoag taught the non-native newly arrived Pilgrims how to cultivate varieties of corn, squash and beans (the Three Sisters); catch fish, and collect seafood.(1)

Thankfulness and Gratitude

As first conceived, this was a religious holiday, observed with piety and solemnity. Modern times sees it as a family time with parades, watching football games, and overeating as all part of the day.

What remains is the idea that we should take time to be thankful for our many blessings. Remembrance of the bounty of the nation we live in, gratitude for freedoms and for friendship and family. For religious and secular alike, it is time to recall the good things we enjoy the rest of the year.

thanksgiving coloring picture
Source: Buck Denver

Fun

If you liked this page, you may enjoy more coloring, history, and thankful thoughts on this page. 5 Kernels of Corn scarecrow

turkey-47753_1280

Arabian Halloween Costume Ideas From 1001 Nights

Aladdin and Arabian Nights

Not 1001 different costumes, but a range of them plucked from the stories of the 1001 Arabian Nights. Those timeless adventures of Sinbad, Aladdin, and told by the clever Sheherazade. Travel on this magic carpet ride that imagines there is a rock band that decides to bring and Arabian fantasy to the stage, you are part of the band! Which part do you play? Which costume brings out your inner Rock Star?

Need a group plan for great Halloween costumes? Consider boy band meets the Arabian Nights and don’t forget Scheherazade makes her debut here, too! Great outfits and makeup tutorials.

Borrow the Johnny Depp look
Borrow the Johnny Depp look

Dress Up As Aladdin, A Sultan, Or Princess Jasmine For Halloween

When outfitting four members of a group (like a sixties era rock group), each has different desires for their showy, yet easy to complete, outfits.

…You might need something along the lines of a thousand and one fantasy stories to create looks to make everyone happy.

A Girl in the Group? Scheherazade!

Arabian Princess Scheherazade look or a troup of backup dancers, the Middle Eastern Harem yields a bevy of outfit designs and colors.

What about those Guys?

The spooky one and the clown both ought to express themselves.

Sounds like we need to get the old Genie out of the bottle and find out what’s available for some all-out fabulous costumes. Plenty of good ready-made costumes are available online. However, if you want to make your own, there are easy patterns to create everything from Turbans to Turkish shoes.

I have ideas for putting together a rockin’ look right here.

Open Sesame– chock full of costume inspirations for a Rockstar Halloween event.

Make a Rockstar Entrance

DIY Arabian Costume

Johnny Depp has a signature look for his role of “Captain Jack Sparrow”, which is similar to the look of Aladdin and other Arabian Nights heroes.

The Easy, Laidback, Handsome Aladdin Look

A Renaissance-style shirt is perfect. Loose, but still swashbuckling… in fact, borrow some of the “Jack Sparrow” look, minus the three corner hat. Loose Arabic look pantaloons, and slippers instead of leather boots.

Now you have a look worthy of the Arabian Nights Aladdin.

Johnny Depp will not be happy with this comparison, I know… but stay with me. The shirt, the vest, and the sash will all work and look dashing as well. You need a little more head wrap for the turban, and a single circle clip-on earring to make it look Arabian and not Caribbean Pirate.
How to wrap a turban.

Muslim Shoe Pattern

Pointed shoe pattern
Pointed shoe pattern

Costume Patterns and Tutorials – Aladdin Breeches, and other costume ideas

Sew Your Own Arabian Nights Outfit

  • Sew an Aladdin Hero Shirt
    Pattern and directions for the hero’s loose shirt.
  • Make Breeches
    Pattern and sewing instructions fro making your own pants for any of these men’s costumes. Use it for Medieval, Middle Eastern, or Pirate looks.

Acting Inspiration

Johnny Depp or Johnny Carson? Keith Richards or Rudolf Valentino. There has to be some way to get into the act and create a memorable character for the party.

Basic Arab Party Costume

Cuterole Adult Men's Halloween Aladdin Costume Fancy Party Cosplay Costume
Cuterole Adult Men’s Halloween Aladdin Costume Fancy Party Cosplay Costume

Start out with this basic outfit, then add the necessary turban,earring, or props to complete the part you will play this Halloween.

The Wild and Crazy Sinbad the Sailor

Are you the wild and crazy guy of the group? Adventurous? Flamboyant and restless? You are Sinbad.

Make A Sinbad Outfit

  • Get the turned up shoes,
  • The vest that reveals the tattoo on your chest (doesn’t need to be real- use henna, but you might have one of your own, who knows?)
  • Huge sash- because you are that swash buckling.

The Handsome Sheik – Swap in the Turban for Sinbad

Handsome Sheik is competition to any Rudolf Valentino. Romantic and dashing look, yet comfortable basic costuming that lends itself to dressing up in a myriad of ways. Great look for Big Men.

The Scary Gjinn/Evil Sultan

Keith Richards Inspiration
Keith Richards defines wild and crazy

He has to have one earring- that is a given.So if not a pierced one, find a large gold hoop to clip on one ear.

A great big curled up black mustache- every scary guy needs a mustache. A muscle shirt and some tattoos, but with an armband of metal so he doesn’t simply look like a motorcycle guy from the sixties.

Pop an easy-to-make vest over the shirt, too. No scary Gjinn guy wears a pastel vest, especially if it is decorated with glitter… so make it black, or leather or both if you can’t stomach the light, bright colors.

A turban would fix that problem too- and it isn’t too expensive.

You might go for the “Gjinn” look (just another word for ‘Genie’). Shave your head and put temporary small tattoos like the genie in the movie. Remember the earrings… but try not to look like Mr. Clean. Use a temporary goatee.

Loftus Adult Arabian Prince With Feather Costume Hat, Gold, One Size

The perfect Aladdin accessory, the profile of an Arabian prince.

Clown It Up with Carnac the Magnificent Costume

There has to be a clown in every group. The 1001 Arabian Nights has to have one, so consider the Snake Charmer costume. Oversize turban and a sense of fun is mandatory. No head banging, though.

Snake Charmer Costume - Standard - Chest Size up to 42

Remember Johnny Carson’s hilarious “Carnac the Magnificent” ? Give repeat performances with this great ( literally!) turban and Arabian outfit.

Forum Novelties Snake Charmer Costume, Blue/Purple, One Size

The Charmer Who Plays The Blues

THE CLOWN OF THE GROUP OR THEIR FAVORITE GENIE

Grant their wish and show up in this Genie costume. Don’t forget to add the earring that all genies seem to have!

Here Is The Look For Aladdin – He is the Paul McCartney of the Band

Rubie's Costume Sultan Complete Value Adult Costume, Black/Red, One Size
Rubie’s Costume Sultan Complete Value Adult Costume, Black/Red, One Size

The Heart Throb, Aladdin is the good guy that sings lead, the front man of the group.

A Necessary Prop

Pirate Cutlass

A prop like this scimitar make all the difference in a costume, a theatrical secret. When trying to portray a certain character give some clues, in this case the sword, or maybe a “genie” lamp.

Theatre Idea For Aladdin

  • Costume Designs – Aladdin
    Sketch of a costume by Colin MacNeil for Aladdin and his wonderful lamp, by Miles Rudge. Citizens Theatre, Glasgow,

Magic Genie Shoes

Many costumes can have interchangeable elements- it just is a matter of putting it all together and accessorizing the right way. Change a hat and choose pointed slipper footwear, instead of boots… the pirate becomes Aladdin.

Gold Genie Shoes
Gold Genie Shoes

Instant Genie, just slip on these golden pointed slippers.

Truly a fun part of the outfit. Of course, you could make your own, but these will quickly finish the look with a glint of gold.

Johnny Depp Makeup Look

It is well known that Depp based much of his ‘Jack Sparrow’ on the idiosyncratic Keith Richards. Richards who played Sparrow’s father in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’ might have more of the dark ‘Scary Gjinn’ look.

Here are Arabian looks for the guys. Jack Sparrow look is the closest I could come to ‘Arabian’ and the guy is just plain entertaining:) Johnny Depp was actually inspired by the Arabian Berber look! Who knew?

Evil Sultan – Classic Arabian Nights Figure

Keyboard Player

-But watch those sharps

Get a sword prop, but don’t really hurt anyone, OK? Become a dashing warrior from Lawrence of Arabia fame to be the coolest of the Desert revolution band. People who use music to make a revolution change the tune, dress up to make a statement. Give the Keyboard player a solo act and see.

Adult-Costume Sultan Adult Costume Halloween Costume - Most Adults
Adult-Costume Sultan Adult Costume Halloween Costume – Most Adults

Headpiece, under-robe and robe are included, you will have to supply your own saber. One size fits most people.

Sail Away On Arabian Tales Of Adventure

Vintage poster
Vintage poster

A Wise Choice – For an Arabian Nights Look

Not for Halloween only, some of these Sultan costumes can double for dressing up as wisemen for the Christmas play!

Forum Novelties Royal Sultan Costume, Black/Gold, One Size
Forum Novelties Royal Sultan Costume, Black/Gold, One Size A complete costume set gives a real fantasy look for any Middle Eastern performance.

Barbara Eden Lookalike

India Genie Ornate Aladdin Lamp Incense Burner
India Genie Ornate Aladdin Lamp Incense Burner

Ornate Aladdin Lamp add authenticity to the look. Where does a genie go when it is time to say “Goodnight?”. And how does Aladdin get places and open sesame without his trusted oil lamp?

Speaking of Dreamy Jeannie Genie

“I Dream of Jeannie” outfit is a stand-in for Scheherazade.

If you take your costuming seriously- you want to visit my articles on Bellydance costuming – they have all the costuming details for the real look.

The Mandatory Background Singers

They are not really “background”

The dancers make the show, and belly dancer or Arabian princess are favorite Halloween looks. I have hubsdevoted to getting the look (or you can buy a quick costume from this page).

Get the harem pants, the vest, and the choli top, but dress everything up with the right jewelry, and accessories and you have a dynamite look.

Scheherazade – The Muse

There would be no show without Scheherazade

Being the master storyteller who creates the whole scene, Scheherazade is happy to ignite imaginations for a fantastic costume party event.

Bellydancer, Jasmine, Any Female Arabic Costume

An eye makeup tutorial for parties or stage, for eyes that will complete the look and captivate your audience.

Scheherazade Eyes

Choose Your Arabian Nights Makeup – Mysterious Eyes

The Arabian eye make up look for women….

Go to Magnetic Arabic Eyes, for Women’s eye makeup tutorials, after you choose your costume.

Coordinate your colors.

Dreamy Genie Adult Costume
Dreamy Genie Adult Costume

All Dressed Up and Ready To Party

The story of the 1001 Arabian Nights takes place in the court of a Persian King. Gone mad with bitter jealousy he kills each new wife on the day following their consummation. Scheherazade, the newest bride, engages the Sultan’s fascination with her storytelling which ends with a cliffhanger ending… to be continued the next night… The collection of stories changed over time, and comprised of folk tales, with elements of poems, riddles, songs and more. Today we are familiar with such stories as “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor”.

Get Inspiration – 1001 Arabian Nights In Action

The Arabian Nights movie from 2000 can inspire your costuming. Take a look. Or read about the original tales of the 1001 Arabian Nights.

Also, check out Johnny Carson’s Carnac for some laughs.

  • Tales of the Arabian Nights Inspires Art
    The romances of the East woven together over time have enthralled generations. Here is a glimpse into the story about the stories and some of the art they have inspired.

Watch The Arabian Nights For Inspiration

Artful Garden Teapots

antique teapot

 

Artful Garden Teapots

Tea and Gardens Seem To Go Together

Something about the idea of tea in a garden whispers of zephyr breezes, blue skies, white fluffy clouds on a summers eve. With the soft waft of a rose’s fragrance, it is a perfect time to sit with a garden patterned teapot brimming with hot, amber colored tea and take a quiet break from the busyness of daily life.

Perhaps it is that connection in the mind between the pleasant quiet of a garden and the calming influence that comes with the warmth of the tea, but any day can seem like one that , however briefly, transforms into this early summer scenario.

One of my favorite ways to decompress and relieve stress is to sit down with a pot of hot tea made in a pretty pot, then pour the tea into one of my favorite teacups. Tea things don’t have to match , but I like the pots to handle and pour well, and for the cups to harmonize in style with the teapots.

This post is dedicated to taking a short time of repast with a pot of freshly brewed tea, perhaps a green or an Earl Gray; to step out into the garden and listen to softly buzzing bees, think creative thoughts, and experience the an oasis of time away from demands of tasks and obligations.

A welcome solitude, or an interlude with friends, but a time of refreshment and renewed perspective.

Chinese Garden Teapot

Chinese Garden Teapot

Teapot Thought

Strange how a teapot

Can represent at the same time

The comforts of solitude

And the pleasures of company

From Famous Franz Porcelain

This brand of porcelain work is noteworthy for its beauty of color and artistry. The teapots immediately draw attention because they look like works of art, and not for daily use. But for those who love to bring beauty into their homes, this is one of those kitchen items which serves as both art and use.
Franz Porcelain Lily of the Nile Teapot, FZ02616

Franz Porcelain Lily of the Nile Teapot, FZ02616

  The company was founded by Francis Chen in Taiwan. There are accomplished artists who design and create many of the special collections.

Franz Porcelain Van Gogh Almond flower teapot Franz Fine Porcelain
Franz Porcelain Van Gogh Almond flower teapot Franz Fine Porcelain

  Many of the designs are inspired by nature, so garden themed ware is frequently found in their collections.

Franz Porcelain Bamboo Song Bird Design Teapot
Franz Porcelain Bamboo Song Bird Design Teapot

 

Franz Porcelain Long Tail Hummingbird Design Teapot
Franz Porcelain Long Tail Hummingbird Design Teapot

 Birds on Franz porcelain may not be the ones found in your garden, but they are in a paradise type of garden somewhere in the world. The long tailed sylph hummingbird is a denizen of South America, in countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Their unusual feathers in such jeweled color makes the design a real standout.


 

Polish Garden Teapot – Polish Pottery

Colorful and decorative, this will bring a warm, bright spot to your decor. Made from Boleslawiec white clay. There are a number of different flower and colors in this line. They have the bright and cheery look of a grandmother’s garden. The decoration reminds me of spongeware for some reason; thought the painting is clearly done by brushwork..

Sunshine Yellow For Morning Teatime – Whimsical Hand Drawn Flowers

Yellow, kitchens, bright daisies – these are so cheering, which is what a breakfast cup of tea ought to be. The flowers look like they were hand drawn on a whim.

Porcelain Whimsical Flower Teapot for One Adorable Gift
Porcelain Whimsical Flower Teapot for One Adorable Gift Golden yellow and whimsical – a bright spot of garden sunshine for a summer morning spot of tea.

The Teapot for One

For many of us, our teatime consists of sitting down on our own with a good cup of tea. A tea for one sized pot is just what we need for the way most of us order our days.

These pots, many made with their own matching teacup perched handily on board, hold just the right amount of tea for one sitting.

Do you collect teapots, too? I’m a little surprised how many do. Maybe you have a number of different types of pots all in one theme like the collection on this page.

I personally just like teapots, and use all mine in one way or another. There aren’t any special themes other than appealing to me because of the design or the special way they are made. I have some Japanese Tetsubin pots that are among my favorite.

I hope you enjoy this online “museum” of sorts as much as I do. Really, the art and variation of teapots even in one theme is astounding.

“All well-regulated families set apart an hour every morning for tea and bread and butter.”-Joseph Addison, 1711

Yixing Tea Pots – Chinese Garden Style

Yixing is pronounced “Yee-Shing”, and signals a very special kind of teapot. They are composed of zisha clay, a rare type of purplish clay found only in Yixing, China.

Yixing teapots are individually sized, so a person may have their own pot. the different colors of the designs are created through the addition of mineral pigments.

These are considered to be one of the finest tea brewing pots in the world. I had no idea about that when I bought one for my son and daughter-in-law. The subtle colors and the artful lizard as a lid handle are what intrigued me. The proportions and ornamental touches make one of the most aesthetically pleasing teapots of the many types found worldwide. At least in my estimation.

Over time, use will it impart a “tea brewed within tea”. This is due to the fact that Zisha clay is extremely porous and will absorb the flavor of tea and the insides of the teapots are left unglazed. Other qualities of this clay are an ability to retain heat, a freedom from toxic materials like lead, arsenic and cadmium ( sometimes found in other clays), and its ability to form the tight fit of the lid. The composition of this clay is mainly of quartz, kaolin, mica, with a high volume of iron oxide.

Made in a myriad of designs , many have a garden theme, some with charming little garden creatures like frogs, and lizards.

The Japanese Tea Garden – A Brief Overview of the Tea Garden Culture

Tea in the Japanese Garden by moonlightbulb, on Flickr
Tea in the Japanese Garden by moonlightbulb, on Flickr

 

The Japanese developed a brilliant art form that unites a refinement of serving tea, the repose of a serene garden, and the calming effect of following ritual that creates a beautiful culture custom and an intriguing garden style.

The tea room (chashitsu) and the tea garden (roji) are a space for holding a tea gatherings. [1] In the tea garden, guests pass through the kuguri entrance, a small and narrow space. From there they follow a stone path which has a measured sequence to encourage thought and mindfulness of their progress. Continuing through a carefully landscaped space they come to a tsukubai, which is a stone wash basin. After washing their hands, the guests enter a low roofed teahouse. It is designed to replicate a traditional home, here the guests sit on tatami mats.The host pours ceremonially made tea for them in this calm and serene place.

The tea garden is called a roji, and it is a very important part of the tea ceremony. The Japanese name for this ceremony is chanoyu.

Tetsubin teapot – Japanese beauty, subtlety, and utility

I have two Tetsubin teapots. One is a black hobnail and one is a pink cherry blossom design which my son gave me for Christmas. I didn’t know that the designs had symbolic meaning, but Teavana has listed the meanings. My cherry blossom pot is the National flower of Japan, and it is a symbol for beauty; the hobnail design stands for strength. Strength and beauty! Those make a fine combination in my estimation.

The Tetsubin teapots are made of cast iron, and they should only be rinsed clean and wiped dry with a clean cloth. Like the Chinese clay pots they can retain tea flavors over time which add to the cachet of the teapot.

I find them to be an eye pleasing and well designed teapot, a joy to use and they pour beautifully. The cast iron retains heat and mine came with their own basket infusers for the loose tea which is brewed to perfection within them.

More history of the Tetsubin teapot from Teavana

Square Cast Iron Tea Set Dragonfly Black #ts6-06bk
Square Cast Iron Tea Set Dragonfly Black #ts6-06bk

 

Take Care of Your Teapot

Instructions For Cast Iron

 

Directions For Chinese ‘Purple clay’:

Tips For Ceramic Teapots

Vintage teapots

 

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” -Henry James

As long as the teapot is there on your shelf, learn to brew tea that goes into it properly. It isn’t difficult, it just takes some attention to the details, especially measuring amounts and getting the timing right.

How to brew a proper cup of tea:

Use fresh water each time you prepare tea.

Choose good tea.

Use 1-2 teaspoons per 8 ounce cup.

Heat water until it reaches a boil, let it cool just slightly then make your tea.

Tea leaves are steeped in the water for 1-3 minutes when making green or white teas. Five minutes for black teas.

Another set of instructions, here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ //~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For those who like P.O.D products like Zazzle:

If you design your own teapot, remember there are several products that can be matched to produce a set. There are mugs, plates, and a candy jar that could just as well be used to store tea or sugar.

In my home, there is a loose collection of teapots, not because I try to actively collect them, but there is just something I love about a teapot. Maybe it is the marriage of aesthetic form and usefulness. Or maybe I just think they are cute, and I enjoy pouring myself a hot cup of tea from a decorative pot.

Do you collect teapots?

Do You Celebrate The Sweetest Day In The Year?

A Fun Holiday To Show You Care

Wacky holidays abound, but this October Saturday is a chance to show someone your appreciation. Something between a Thanksgiving day for individual and Valentine’s day for special people.

Third Saturday In October is Sweetest Day

For those who don’t have enough special occasions to commemorate, one of the more obscure Holidays is the one that celebrates “the sweetest day of the year”.

It deserves to be better known and observed since it is the day set aside to simply show your appreciation for the unsung heroes of your life. We could use more of that! Those people who are special to you might have another holiday, like “Mother’s Day” or “Valentine’s Day”, but this one is the 3rd Saturday in the month of October to…

honor sweethearts, close friends, relatives or employees with special gift of something sweet.

You can simply tell them how important they are no other reason than that you appreciate them on this day.

What is the story behind this celebration?

Have You Heard Of This Holiday?

Sweetest Day

Always observed on the third Saturday in October.

Something Sugary

Sweet as Sugar

Whose idea was it, anyway?

Primarily celebrated in the Great Lakes region and in the Northeast, not surprising since it was the brainchild of Cleveland, Ohio philanthropist Herbert Birch Kingston. Working for a candy company, he came up with an idea to sweeten the lives of of orphans and other people who were overlooked or forgotten.

Some actresses of the time were encouraged to take up the banner and the idea caught on.

Some skeptics say that a group of candymakers thought the whole thing up. However it may be, It is an opportunity to do something sweet for someone who you believe deserves it.

Ohioans Love To Celebrate This Holiday

Ohio is the top state for Sweetest Day sales, but other states also have a showing, including Michigan and Illinois. Texas, California and Florida.

Due to the association of affection, candy, and flowers, it has also become a romantic holiday to remember ones “Sweet Heart”. Like a second Valentine’s Day… so you get another chance to give someone the message that you love them. It originally was simply a day of appreciation for the persons of your choosing. Think of it as sort of a “random kindness” day.

An Appreciative Message

Super cute idea to use: Get a matchbox, paint it and print your message on top with markers. Fill the inside with a miniature diorama that reminds you of them. Or just their favorite jelly beans!
Super cute idea to use: Get a matchbox, paint it and print your message on top with markers. Fill the inside with a miniature diorama that reminds you of them. Or just their favorite jelly beans!

Students Explain It All for You

Why Celebrate Another Holiday?

Isn’t this one very similar to Valentine’s Day, when romance reins supreme?

Actually the beauty of this holiday might be in the fact that it isn’t about romancing the woman of your dreams. It could be a whole lot more about a man who is especially sweet.

It could be about that extra nice neighbor who does favors for you, and always has a smile and a wave.

We don’t have to make all gift giving about a romantic relationship, and that isn’t what the idea was for this one.

Have An Hour For Learning about the Science of Sweetest Day?

Fresh, Delicious Chocolate

See's Candies 1 lb. Chocolate & Variety
See’s Candies 1 lb. Chocolate & Variety

Have you ever tasted this confection? See’s brand is widely available and tastes wonderful. Freshly made with quality ingredients.

My first taste was during Christmas season at one of their booths in a mall, but you can order them anytime online.

Should I Buy Something?

Ideas for Sweetest Day Gifts

You get to buy something, because you appreciate someone.

You could give the object of your appreciation and gratefulness a box of chocolates, or a special cupcake, or you could make something yourself.

That is the beauty of something sweet- it doesn’t have to come tied with a bow, you can bake, make, or send anything that you believe will make their day “sweeter”.

I do think a card is nice, and it costs very little in cost or time.

Sprinkles, Cupcakes, and Pink, Oh My!

Without The Calories

The trouble with some of these holidays is the way they wreck havoc with the diet, but substituting something you wear for something you eat may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Don’t worry about the calories for these cupcakes, candies, and sweets, they are beautiful little reminders of how sweet you think your Sweetie really is, in clever jewelry designs just right for a gift on this holiday.

CHOOSE JEWELRY

It isn’t hard to celebrate this day without ruining your diet. Let’s forget that the whole idea of this holiday was to get people to eat more candy. Instead, make it something unexpected and memorable with a pretty necklace or a pair of earrings in a fun theme of bakery goodies or their favorite fall sugary delight.

What makes this holiday special?

It’s a day to make others feel special.

Customize a Card

Sweetest Day Cards from Zazzle

Just for Today

Here is one of the creative cards that can be found on Zazzle. Or you could design your own for a really unique card that has high quality paper and printing.

Too late for this year? Consider making one, anyway, you can always send it next year.

What about appropriate quotes for your cards?

Say something sweet inside

Quotations for the day, add them to your custom card.

The best portion of a good man’s life – his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. ~William Wordsworth

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.

I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~William Penn

How beautiful a day can be

When kindness touches it!

~George Elliston

Life is mostly froth and bubble,

Two things stand like stone,

Kindness in another’s trouble,

Courage in your own.

~Adam Lindsay Gordon

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. ~Jean Baptiste Massieu

 

Praise the bridge that carried you over. ~George Colman

 

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart. ~Henry Clay

One of my Favs, too

Signature Collection Chocolate Liqueurs – 165g

These are hard to find! This would be my mother’s idea of the sweetest gift ever. She delighted in that little taste of liqueur inside a chocolate.

A variety of liqueur flavors.

Some Gift Ideas

If you decide to single out one person to show your appreciation to, think about their interests or something that would make their job more enjoyable. If they have helped you through their expertise you can get something as simple as an electric pencil sharpener, or something as extravagant as a leather computer bag. Or something in between!

For her:

Truffles to die for.

For him:

A cool computer bag or phone accessories

Or vice-versa

For the Gardener:

Seeds, hand lotion – Especially in “Sweet Pea”

For a Birder:

A special treat for their birds, “bird egg” chocolates

For an Artist:

A small sketchbook, art pin, artistic chocolates

Which candy treat would you give?

Nostalgic Memories Of Oldtime Dimestore Favorites

Hometown Favorites 1980's Nostalgic Candy Gift Box, Retro 80's Candy, 3-Pound
Hometown Favorites 1980’s Nostalgic Candy Gift Box, Retro 80’s Candy, 3-Pound

Do you have memories of old fashioned favorites, the kind of candy that you enjoyed as a child? Share the delight you experienced with someone you appreciate on the third Saturday of October this year.

Unique Cookbook Stands

Something's Cooking

Cookbook Stands Save Hands

Give yourself two hands to work with while checking that recipe book.

Unique styles to give your kitchen counter a practical stand.
Unique styles to give your kitchen counter a practical stand.

 

Hold Your Cookbook In Style

There are cookbook stands for every taste and interior decorating style. A large number of them are made of wrought iron or metal of some sort and twisted into all sorts of pretty looks. I needed a cookbook holder and that sent me looking at what was available. I love the ingenious designs, but am a bit old fashioned in the styles I like- shabby cottage chic is closest description. But what if you like minimalist or Georgian formal? There are cookbook stands that are a charming addition to your kitchen.

Here is a collection of some of the interesting styles available, perhaps you will find one right for your kitchen.

Ironwork in red color, a French touch

Good color for a kitchen with red appliances, black ironwork hardware, and most country style or rustic decor.

Iron Cookbook Stand ~ Book Holder Adorned with Bird ~ Worn Red Color
Iron Cookbook Stand ~ Book Holder Adorned with Bird ~ Worn Red Color Artful scrolling with a pert bird in the design. Great for French Country or Mediterranean décor or to match with cast iron look pulls and handles.

Hold Everything- Do You Use A Cookbook Stand?

Holding open the cookbook to the page you need without it flopping closed.

Holding open the cookbook to the page you need without it flopping closed.

Many Styles and Types of Unique Stands – Did you realize there was such a variety?

French, Country, Modern, there are unique types and one is just right for you.

French, Country, Modern, there are unique types and one is just right for you.

French style adds the same pizazz to your décor as the French can also add to your cooking. Graceful scrolling makes a beautiful addition in use and simply out on the counter.

Pantryware(the general label for this kind of kitchen accessory) is the ideal way to add a bit of pizzazz to your décor. Kitchens are usually places of efficiency. We want our work surfaces, landing spaces, and appliances to help us produce our culinary masterpieces- or at least the family meal with ease of care and capability. But kitchens have also been a way to add decorating flair to the place in the house that everyone is sure to use daily. Adding style with unique accessories, giving touches of color, this is the job of even small utility pieces like paper towel holders, napkin holders, recipe books and boxes, and cookbook holders

Now you can pick one that makes your counter shine and makes more space for bowls, ingredients, and important stuff of the process.

Today’s Way To Display

Classical Black Metal Bird Design Easel Style Display Stand Cookbook / Photo Album / Tablet Holder - MyGift
Decorative Red Bird Metal Cookbook Stand Book Holder Easel

Tablets are one of the best ways to find new recipes, so a holder for yours might be one of the best kitchen accessories you’ve ever put on your counter.

Basically a practical thing to have, but with the way many are designed they can become art, too. Whimsical or traditional, you can add the type of accent that most appeals to you.

Usually, the more modern kitchens with white cabinets and appliances will provide the best backdrop for colorful and sculpture look stands.

While a country kitchen shows off wood and iron materials as the most natural partners.

A clever use of utensils bent to provide a landing place for holding a book is one design, and there seems to be no shortage of ideas of how to hold your cookbook.

Try A little humor in your kitchen

I’ve always liked the utensil theme in a kitchen, do you like this one, too?

Think about having a little fun when choosing a peripheral gadget like this. Use it not only for practical use ( which it will provide) but for a little bit of whimsy.

What about flimsy magazines with great recipes? Prop it up and hold the pages open to just the right spot. Not everyone likes to tear the pages out. I am one of those people who likes to collect cooking magazines and keep them stored in sturdy files, but when it comes to actually using the recipes you need one of these beauties to hold the place and keep from messing up the pages.

Decorative Scrolls

Iron Leaf Scroll Kitchen Cookbook Stand
Iron Leaf Scroll Kitchen Cookbook Stand

Bring some French style to the kitchen. Put that magazine here to use a recipe, or set up your iPad. However you use this stand, it will give a touch of class to the counter.

Aren’t these original looking? So many styles, one would match up with a kitchen style whether it is modern, minimalist, European, or country. Need to prop a book on your desk while working on your laptop? Match your décor and keep a favorite 8×10 photo or two propped in a place of honor.

Some people cook from their iPads. They love the food bloggers and want to try the recipe without the intermediary of printing out the recipe on paper. The kitchen stands made just for their electronic needs are the answer for them. May you can’t prop an old fashioned hardcover book on it- it safely and conveniently holds your iPad while you refer to which ingredient to add next.

Like this one?

Made of reclaimed wood, which is among the hottest decorating trends, a way to bring warmth and strong design where you want it, plus a sturdy holder for your iPad tablet or book.

There are specially made sleeves like this one, but there isn’t any reason why a regular stand couldn’t safely support your electronic device like a reader or an iPad. Just like having a personalized case, a unique stand gives some sparkle and personality to the kitchen counter while folding away neatly if you are through using it or want more space.

What happens when you open your favorite recipe book to bake up that fabulous chicken for your guest? Or when you’ve found just the right recipe on your tablet? Too often the book won’t lie flat or the it lies too flat. The mixer splatters a bit of batter onto the surface. Many stands have a shield or page holders.

Hold Pictures, Photos, or Recipe Books – Shabby Chic Cottage Look

poster of cookbook

Creative Co-op Green Metal Cookbook Holder

Creative Co-op Metal Cookbook Holder, Aqua Metal faux antique cookbook stand, stylish green measuring 13.5″ wide x 13″ high

Simple and inexpensive, but the scrolled design adds cottage charm to its task of keeping your cookbook upright.

Save Counter Space

This is the top reason to use this pantryware

How many benefits can you think of?

There Are Benefits To A Stand

Not one of the most necessary gadgets for the kitchen, but like a paper towel holder, one that increases the convenience and efficiency of common kitchen tasks.

Most of us use recipes from which to cook up our meals. Cookbooks, printouts from the computer, recipe cards, all of which are usually paper and subject to spill. Anyone who has tried to read the recipe from a cookbook while running the mixer knows what a balancing act that can be!

These stands, which stylishly hold the cookbook, solve the problem.

  • Keep important recipes, books, and electronics out of the way of accidental spills and splatters. At first, it seems that a few splatters just prove how busy you’ve been in the kitchen, but over time those really add up and ruin not just the appearance, but the page integrity of the book.
  • And I just hate bending over the book when I could see it easily, straightaway, on the stand.
  • Make more workspace on the counter
  • Hold the pages open and give support to magazines

It is surprising how many ingenious ideas people have for utilizing a simple kitchen gadget or devices that make life easier or a job more convenient. This is a simple one, for sure but there may be life hacks that you can think of if you just put on your thinking cap (or if you hang around Pinterest long enough!).

For instance, you know those pants or skirt hangers with the clips? Yes! Someone turned one of those into a cookbook holder. Granted it looks a little kitschy, but that might be just the thing for a certain kitchen style. See that idea here.

For me, my tastes run to some of these, presented in this post. I bounce between wanting a sleek one that folds up out of the way and the scrolled ironwork type.

That is my problem: I like too many and can’t seem to make up my mind. If you have a favorite, why not mention it in the comments?

Holders and Stands

 

Use As A Bookstand

You can use a cookbook stand for other books- even your Bible! Which is why you shouldn’t think of having one of these stands as merely one more gadget for your kitchen counter.

Don’t stop there, as a unique style of easel for a favorite large photograph, or a piece of art.

Undercabinet Hide-Away Cookbook Holder
Undercabinet Hide-Away Cookbook Holder

Space saving convenience, this one folds away out of sight when you aren’t using it.

Protect Your Cookbooks From Splatters and Spills

Make it easy to read while you cook. You can also use the stands for your tablets, etc.

Giving You A Bird’s Eye View

IMAX Audubon Park Book Easel Cookbook Stand
IMAX Audubon Park Book Easel Cookbook Stand Rustic, artsy, this is a cookbook holder with a strong sculptural look. If you love sculptural birds perched on natural looking branch, this is the perfect choice for your counter. It goes with a wide range of cabinet styles: French, contemporary, rustic.
One of the best for matching cabinet pulls made of iron or bronze, and great gift for any bird lover.

Make Your Own? Do It Yourself and Save Money – if you are handy

Sterling Home Embossed Vine Bookholder, 15-Inch Tall
Sterling Home Embossed Vine Bookholder, 15-Inch Tall

Old Cookbooks Are Protected From Spills

I love old cookbooks. Some of mine came from my grandmother- I wish I had more of them now! To protect them from spills just makes sense and is one of the more important reasons to use a stand.

Some come with splatter guards, although an upright position for your recipes books is probably all that is needed.

Lipper International Bamboo and Acrylic Cookbook Holder
Lipper International Bamboo and Acrylic Cookbook Holder

Recipe Card Idea, Too

While you are at it … making the use of recipes more convenient while you cook… why not use something to hold your recipe crds that aren’t in book form?

Here is a cute idea for holding single recipe cards, same idea on a smaller scale. Although drips and spills might show that you like to use that recipe, it is tough on the card. I have a cookbook style holder with plastic sleeves, but much prefer the old fashioned recipe box with individual cards, and this little card holder eliminates the wear and tear on the recipe cards.

One thing I’ve used for recipe cards is a picture holder, one of those little wire ones that you insert a single photo inside the circle of wire. It holds just the recipe card I am using and I can see both sides. The card is held high above the surface of the counter and doesn’t get marred by moisture or a bit of spilled flour or milk.

There are all sorts of these photo holders, too. I have some seasonal ones: seashell summery styles or Christmas snowmen, and they work really well to hold the 3×5 cards that I have a fav recipe written on (some of my 3×5 recipes were my grandmothers!)

What’s Your Kitchen Style?

Which cookbook holder would you spring for?

Cook-books have always intrigued and seduced me. ~The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book

Enlightened Gifts for Yoga Lovers

Welcome to the best in Yoga gifts!

One of the best forms of exercise for keeping flexible and known for its gentleness, this has been my favorite workout. It requires few props, but for some, there are accessories that make yoga exercises more comfortable.

As I try new levels, I found a few items that I wouldn’t want to be without- so if you have someone on your gift list who wants to try yoga, or those who have been practitioners for a long time, consider some of these great ideas- or even apparel for those who just love comfort!

Browse through these great gift ideas for a healthier new year.

A Unique Gift for Women -The Yoga Gift Basket
A Unique Gift for Women -The Yoga Gift Basket

Personally, I think a gift basket like this (or one you assemble yourself) is the way to please even the pickiest person on your list. Noting their interests while catering to their desire to relieve stress makes this combination of items one that could please just about anyone.

Spa products, aromatherapy, and a few luxurious taste treats – who can resist loving that?

Gear, Find The Kulae Brand

Kulae tpECOmat Ultra Eco Pilates Mat - Sea/Slate (8mm x 72 x 24-Inch)
Kulae tpECOmat Ultra Eco Pilates Mat – Sea/Slate (8mm x 72 x 24-Inch)

One of the best gifts for a person who practices yoga is a mat. This one is particularly attractive in color and eco-friendly.

What Is “Eco-Friendly”?

Usually made of rubber, sometimes mixed with jute or organic cotton.

These mats will be more expensive in cost.

What To Look For In A Mat

The majority of mats are made of PVC vinyl, but some may be made of jute, rubber, or cotton.

Although a bit sticky, PVC can last a very long time and endure a lot of use. It is also the most “cushion-y”.

There are different textures to choose from, with jute probably being the most rough to the feel.

WHAT THICKNESS?

That depends on you, with varying thicknesses available. I have one of my first mats that is a terry cloth material backed with foam, which is very thin, and a newer PVC which is much thicker. Sometimes I prefer one and sometimes another. Although I always liked the thinner matt for its feeling of stability and connection to the ground.

ALLERGIES TO LATEX

If you have allergy to latex like I do, you will probably need to forego anything made of rubber.

This Exercise is Good for You – Relaxes, Challenges, and Stretches for Strength and Flexibility

Gifts that will be used all year, because these exercise routines can be enjoyed by all in any season of life.
Gifts that will be used all year, because these exercise routines can be enjoyed by all in any season of life.

Who Benefits?

Almost anyone will benefit from the gentle stretches, and the levels of difficulty mean that a practitioner can progress through increasingly challenging workout.

If you are thinking about what to give the person who has already found this workout form, why not pay for classes at their favorite studio? Or if someone wanted to begin, why not give them a beginners kit including pre-paid classes, a workout outfit, and a mat?

Gift Basket Ideas:

  • Candle in soothing scent like ‘Green Tea’, or ‘Beach Walk’
  • Book with illustrated poses
  • DVD
  • Headband
  • Exfoliating glove and stress-relieving shower gel
  • Herbal teas
  • Packed in a yogi tote
  • Good Health recipe book

Find out which is their favorite kind of class and be sure to get the clothing items or accessories that best go with that type of exercise. Check out the types in the table on this page.

Types of Yoga

Type
Pace
Characteristic
Kundalini
deliberate
breathing very important
Viniyoga
individualized
tailored to the indvidual
Bikram/Hot
more vigorous
use of room heat
Iyengar
deliberate
uses props
Vinyasa or flow:
more vigorous
breathing
Hatha:
slow paced
gentle
Ashtanga
fast paced
intense

Yoga has become one of the most popular ways to exercise. The benefits listed on WebMD are improved flexibility, more strength, better concentration, improved posture, better breathing, find out more in their article.

There are classes in just about every city, but with DVD’s and fitness videos that are available those classes can be brought home.

Hint: prepaid classes are a great gift idea

This form of exercise boosts levels of brain chemicals which contribute to relaxation and contentment, and its effect on cortisol levels is considered the reason for yoga’s ability to boost the immune function. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and that aids restoration and healing.

What To Look For In Workout Clothing

Loose fitting is the rule- except that a stretchy closer fitting top might work better than a baggy one. In poses such as downward dog… keep your shirt from falling into your face!

DOING THE “HOT” STYLE?

  • Capri or crop pants prevent sweaty slippery legs while allowing a cooler outfit
  • Fabric that wick sweat away from the body

What Is Hot Yoga?

Hot yoga is the use of raising the temperature of the room to allow muscles to warm and stretch more easily.

Your Own Wish List

Which gift is on your wish list?

Vibram Fivefingers Womens Performa
Vibram Fivefingers Womens Performa

There is nothing that feels better than these five toe shoes- not even barefoot! Pay particular attention to measuring your foot for good fit. The Kangaroo leather is amazingly soft.

Vibram Barefoot Shoes – Perfect for Workouts

Until you wear a pair of these, you will not believe how comfortable they are. A great way to grip the floor when doing exercise, these shoes are mainly for indoor performance. There are other Vibram shoes for outdoor wear, such as running or water sports, but these are best for yoga workouts. I have a purple pair- I love them, and people remark on them. They are a little unusual, although increasingly popular.

Read my personal review of Vibram shoes.

One thing that I stress in my review is the importance of getting the sizing right for this type of shoe. If you don’t have access to that information, this isn’t the ideal gift suggestions. BUT, if you do know the accurate sizing to order, there is nothing that will make your gift more welcome than this super comfortable workout footwear.

Danskin

This brand has made clothes for dancers for years, and their exercise and sports clothes are excellent.

Yoga Pants for Comfort – Lounging, Exercising, Almost Everything Is More Comfortable

Danskin and Green Tea are great brands, and there is nothing more comfortable than these pants. Allows for complete flexibility without binding while doing the stretches and poses. I prefer all cotton, maybe with some Spandex for stretchiness and shape.

I haven’t tried the straight leg type yet, but would love to.

Danskin Women's Yoga Pant,Black,Large
Danskin Women’s Yoga Pant,Black,Large

A Gift They Will Wear and Love

The comfort that these clothes afford make them wonderful for many activities, and for lounging, too.

I wear mine all the time, for workouts at the gym, for doing housework. They are very versatile. The yoga pants and capris are my most used items.

Learn More about Yoga – It may become your health solution

Ball Chair – Improve your posture and your core strength

There are a number of these chairs on the market, and they seem to be an improvement for sitting on just a ball (which I’ve done). An excellent gift idea for someone interested in the health benefits of strengthening their core, who has to do a lot of sitting (like at the computer). It is on my wishlist.

Gaiam Balance Ball Chair (Black)
Gaiam Balance Ball Chair (Black)

This is great for people who must work on the computer for long hours.

Most of the reviews are very positive- the minus points always are for the ball chairs not being tall enough for many desks. The comfort and improvements, however, never are an issue.

Men do it, too – Athletic workout

Athletes benefit from alternative exercise programs, and many need the flexibility that yoga provides. so what would a man wear?

My son loves his hot yoga class, and wear shorts and a t-shirt. So anything that is loose, comfortable, and allows for the full range of movement necessary for the stretches is all that is needed.

Yoga Bag Carryall – Compact ways to carry your gear anywhere

Simply Jute Yoga Bag - Water
Simply Jute Yoga Bag – Water

Other Possible Accessories For The Yogi On Your List

  • Blocks
  • Exercise straps
  • Soft headband
  • A special tote
  • favorite essential oils

Are You Just Getting Started?

You Will Need:

  • Loose fitting clothes
  • A floor mat

You can use DVD’s, but you might feel more confident in a class with an instructor.

If you want a good DVD to begin with, try Smart Start Yoga to begin with.

You want contact with the floor or mat, so barefoot or barefoot shoes work best.

Relaxation is an important part of yoga practice: forget the phone and take full advantage of the rest at the end of the routine.

What Are The Senior Benefits?

It can…

  • help you stay agile
  • build strength
  • help you remain flexible
  • gain balance

Yoga might help…

  • reduce heart rate
  • improve blood pressure
  • ease back pain
  • alleviate depression and anxiety

Are there drawbacks?

Yes, care should be taken with poses, and sometimes existing problems complicate the ability to do the poses safely. The answer is to use modifications to ease into the exercise. Also to not rush the progress, taking time to accomplish the level safely.

Mind Bending

The New Yoga for People Over 50: A Comprehensive Guide for Midlife & Older Beginners
The New Yoga for People Over 50: A Comprehensive Guide for Midlife & Older Beginners

Gift Ideas For Art Therapy

People everywhere have discovered the relaxation and therapeutic value of coloring. Adult coloring books are even on sale at the checkout of my grocery stores! I think it is a great idea, but I also think we should take this love of coloring one step further:

Allow our own creative vision loose!

Not instead of using the coloring books, but along with them.

One type of coloring book
One type of coloring book
Beautiful Creatures: A Grayscale Adult Coloring Book of Animals

What does the use of a coloring book encourage?

I think it helps us feel inspired by another’s vision. The beauty of a talented artist frees us from worry that we won’t make something “artistic enough”. We aren’t held back by that fear. A coloring book is for our own creativity what training wheels are for a young bicyclist. It allows us to build confidence in our own abilities and strengthens the muscle coordination.

Using another artists picture does that for us, too. That is why children love their coloring books and paint by number sets.

But I am venturing the opinion that we ought to allow ourselves some freedom to be creative in our own right as well.

Copying For Practice, Not For Sale

We can start with copying ideas, there is nothing wrong with that when working on our own art therapy, but at some point we ought to take a chance on our own vision and style. To copy is an age old way to learn technique, but is never meant to pass off as one’s own.

Now get your supplies, spend some time in your coloring books, make a similar design of your own, and finally set your self free with your markers, pencils and blank sheets of paper.

Are you ready?

A Gift List For Coloring

    •  High quality colored pencils

 

  • Reliable pencil sharpener

 

Some Pretty Books To Get Started

Don’t forget to have a sketch book on hand for when you feel like freehand drawing.

Notes

Using a coloring book and pencils makes art easy and attainable. It sidesteps the worry that we will not be a “good artist”.

“Mindful art”  has been shown to reduce stress and provide a sense of comfort. (1)

Why does it work?

  • It helps switch off an overactive brain and center the mind’s focus.
  • It was observed that the repetition  of coloring creates changes in heart rate and in brainwaves.
  • Activates the creative side of the brain.
  • Ritual that helps you unwind from the daily grind.

What Medium Should You Use?

It really depends on what you like, but I would start with pencils because they are so easy to use and blend. Pastels, markers, and pens,are other possibilities. Paints are also something you could try, along with good old crayons. If you have any doubts about how to color- since it may have been a few years since you attempted to try your hand at art, go ahead and view some how to videos on Youtube. I was surprised at the number of them that either showed tips and tricks ( like how to color leaves) or just recored someone coloring..

Don’t forget to do the drawing yourself, though!

Child’s Play Kitchen For Serious Fun

Kids learn through their play, and love to gravitate toward the play kitchen with pretend foods, miniature pots and pans. Hours of fun for little children as they spend time in their own kitchen.

Imaginary play never gets old


Do you remember your favorite imaginary ways to play as a child? Did it include play food, utensils, and maybe even your own play stove, refrigerator, and sink? Our Church and Kindergarten always had these play spaces, and I made sure to have the same for my children.

There is something that fascinates children as they role play activities, and it is a way they work out the important job of growing up and handling everyday chores and responsibilities. Of course, for them it is just lots of fun, but important fun! Maybe there is really no other kind?

I couldn’t resist putting together a collection of the colorful and delightful play kitchens along with their many accoutrements. One thing that always bothered me about many child’s toy dishes and utensils were the ones that were so flimsy they didn’t last more than a short time. I grew to appreciate the better quality ones and I think a child has more fun with them, too.

Jonti Craft Toddler Contempo Toy Sink w Moving Faucet
Jonti Craft Toddler Contempo Toy Sink w Moving Faucet

I concentrated on finding the better choices to help put together the best in child’s play 🙂 because as parents we ought to take fun as seriously as our children do, don’t you think?

Jonti-Craft 2079JC, Toddler Contempo Stove
Jonti-Craft Toddler Contempo Stove

Jonti-Craft Kids Playschool Classroom Kindergarten Toddler Contempo Refrigerator
Jonti-Craft Kids Playschool Classroom Kindergarten Toddler Contempo Refrigerator

Plan To Make Your Own? – Plans for a custom made play kitchen

Jonti Craft Toddler Contempo Toy Cupboard
Jonti Craft Toddler Contempo Toy Cupboard

Source: blog.craftzine.com via Kate

Could you picture a space in your home for a project like this? It really doesn’t take much more space than a play bench, and yet stores the playthings and provides a great features for your child’s imagination and role play. If using the plans below for a crafted child play kitchen, you might well be creating an heirloom that even your grandchildren will be happily “cooking on” in years to come.

Woodworking Project Paper Plan to Build Wood Cook Stove Plan

Are you handy with a saw and hammer? Maybe you can create your own custom made child’s kitchen play area.

Woodworking Project Paper Plan to Build Wood Cook Stove Plan

Toy Kitchens Make Great Playtimes – eBay For Child’s Play

Keep your child happily occupied using imagination and roleplay with a toy kitchen and accessories just the right size. Kids like to socialize around food and cooking just like grownups do!

Goplus Wood Kitchen Toy Kids Cooking Pretend Play Set Toddler Wooden Playset New

Beautiful and Durable Play Kitchens – All-In-Ones Save Space, Separate “Appliances” Are Flexible

Colorful Essentials 4-in-1 Play Kitchen Color: BluePlay kitchens that are durable and sturdy are important investments in children’s furniture. They don’t have to have lots of bells and whistles and they don’t have to be expensive, but a toy that will withstand real play, and a little banging around is quite important.

Looking for smooth corners and the right height are a couple points to keep on your checklist.

Good, sturdy play kitchens come in both plastic and wood types, and it is more a personal preference than anything else that might weigh in the favor of one over the other. White play appliances and the more colorful ones are likely to be of plastic material.

New Children's Kitchen Play Food Set 50 Pieces Kitchen Pretend Play Food

My Little Chef Deluxe Faux Granite Play KitchenA dream kitchen for little girls is one made of a fashionable trompe l’oeil granite look. Moms often like large pieces of play furniture to match up with the general décor of the house. This might be just the style for your own child’s room or corner of the rec-room.

Toddler Contempo Wood Play 4 Piece Kitchen SetOne kitchen I like for its good design is the Contempo brand. It has engaging appeal, is made of wood and of the right size for toddlers. Fill up the doors with play food and few pots and pans and young children can play for hours just imagining their own meals and snacks that they can serve their dolls and teddy bears. Four separate pieces means the arrangement is customizable to the play space.

Colorful Essentials Four Piece Play Kitchen Color: YellowSunshine yellow is a fvorite color for a cheerful little play kitchen. Toddlers will discover how much fun it is as they mimic the important work of cooking and serving. Convincing a child to eat right is more fun when using the play in their own kitchen to talk about making good food choices, learning to keep food preparation clean and tidy. Much better than nagging or lectures. Living healthy and cooperatively is better “caught” than taught and when setting up a play space with their own little kitchen that is exactly what we are providing: ways for child to find the fun in living well. This beats television by a mile, and the many facts of play can be part of your child’s play day.

Kidkraft Pink Retro Kitchen and Refrigerator Play Set

Stores like Walmart or Target are convenient places to find your child’s play kitchen and they are bound to have lots of the accessories, too. If you want play dishes, fake food, and even a small tablecloth… this is a great place to shop to make your little kids happy! There is usually convenient pickup if you decide to have it delivered to the store.

I also find cute play kitchens and accessories at IKEA and Pottery Barn.

Play Dishes in Just The Right Size – Cups, Saucers, Plates and Utensils

I always had lots of play dishes for my kids, and then got completely new sets for the grandkids (we were pretty hard on the toys of this type in our household). I liked to use the play dinnerware of this size for little snacks of real food just for fun.

Learning Resources Pretend and Play Dish Set

Bright, fun colors to make a festive play dinner for favorite friends. High quality and substantial playware.

Learning Resources Pretend and Play Dish Set

If you decide to buy a play kitchen for your child, why not round out the experience with a set of good quality pans. Those cheap plastic ones often break in no time, but those made of metal are easy to clean and stake lots of serious playtime.

Children's Stainless Steel Cookware Set 5 Pc. Gift Set including Sauté Pan, Stock Pot and Sauce Pan *Perfect Gift Idea*
Children’s Stainless Steel Cookware Set 5 Pc. Gift Set including Sauté Pan, Stock Pot and Sauce Pan Perfect Gift Idea

Beautiful high quality stainless steel is durable and looks like Mommy’s real kitchenware!

Children’s Stainless Steel Cookware Set 5 Pc. Gift Set including Sauté Pan, Stock Pot and Sauce Pan *Perfect Gift Idea*

Check These Two Things

  1. Make sure the “work surface” will be a good height for the child.
  2. The more solid the construction, the better

Source: tumblr.com via Haley

Little Tykes Tough – Kitchens That Can Take It

The rough and tumble of real kids having lots of fun, that is. When my children were little I got tired everything breaking, until I discovered brands that were made for real play and could take children playing with their toys on more than occasional Sundays. These toys are tough and can take daily play with your children and their friends.

Little Tikes: Side-By-Side Kitchen

Tough Little Tykes quality and room for two to share in the playtime.

Little Tikes: Side-By-Side Kitchen

Tea Parties

Every child likes to play tea party- it has never been just for little girls. Although little girls are truly in their element with all the girly colors like those on this rug. With a rug and the play kitchen setup, with perhaps a child’s set of table and chairs, an area can be set aside in a family room, play room, or any place that has a five by five foot area for playing. The child play kitchen furniture usually has lots of storage and cubby holes for keeping the toys neat.

Kitchen Play Accessories – In Bright, Playful Colors

There are so many fine play sets of dishes, utensils, and play cookware available to go with your child’s new kitchen imagination center, that it may be hard to choose! In the important work of role playing adult activities and duties such as cooking foods, serving others, and engaging in the teamwork of taking care of daily chores, children take real joy in outfitting their play kitchens and serving special meals to their favorite bears and dolls…. as well as siblings and friends.

New Children's Kitchen Play Food Set 50 Pieces Kitchen Pretend Play Food

Repurpose and Make Your Own

Example of play sets that create loads of pretending and role playing fun

Whether a child has realistic or imaginary styles of play dishes and pots and pans does not seem to matter as much as the fact that they are of high enough quality to endure lots of handling and have durability.

New Children's Kitchen Play Food Set 50 Pieces Kitchen Pretend Play Food

Play food is always fun, remember the Beatrix Potter story of “The Two Bad Mice”? When a pair of mice come to enjoy the dollhouse, the artificial food looked so real that one determined mouse was frustrated in trying to carve a particularly delectable entree.

Sometimes children like to take their play dishes outside, whether you think that is a good idea will determine the strength and toughness of the play set. A play kitchen helps to keep the play utensils inside where they aren’t as likely to be lost or broken. But you can set up an outdoor kitchen, all the same. Be creative!

Source: trainupachildlearnaswego.blogspot.com via christina on Pinterest

The creativity of Moms and Dads in making wonderful play kitchens for their children is just amazing

On A Budget? Economical Choices – Wide Variety Of Style And Colors

When looking for lower costs, the materials are usually plastic. Colorful and fun for little cooks. These are all in one choices which will also save space.

DIY Child Play Kitchens

Re-purposing to build your own child’s play kitchens

Here are super cute ideas for repurposing or making your own d-i-y versions of play kitchens. There is no price tag on the amount of fun these play furnishings provide. Just a little scavenging around for materials, or even a small trip to the hardware, and even basic carpentry skill will give a great result.

There are lots of great tutorials online, but most of these ideas can be copied without too much experience. Even newbies can put together really cute play kitchens with just some paint and a few refurbishments.

Source: a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net

Source: dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.ca via Cassie

I think the simple beige play sink above is one of my favorites and looks easy enough for someone as UN-handy as me could finish it in a day or so. I bet my husband could get ‘er done in a couple hours, including paint drying time. The simple lines are elegant, too, with just those easy to hold handles and a little shelf for important play foods or dishes.

Source: flickr.com via Rachael

Or maybe you are planning to? Which will you choose, a DIY project or one of the nifty new ones you see on this page?

Source: thebooandtheboy.com via Julia

More For Your Creation Of A Kitchen Play Space

ALEX Toys Tin Tea Set

Wonderful tin tea set for serving a high tea to V.I.P. dolls and teddy bears. A great kit to take to Grandmother’s house, too.

ALEX Toys Tin Tea Set