Chanuka Gift Guide 2013 Part 3: For The Children

Tonight is the first night of Chanuka and of course I'm thrilled about that. I'm pretty sure it's my favorite holiday of them all! There is something so warm and cozy about it all from lighting the candles, eating comfort food straight from the frying pan and of course spending time with family at home is better then anything in the world. I remember getting so excited for this holiday as a kid and I truly want to pass that exhilaration on to my own son. I always say that holidays like these are most important for the children. These are the memories they will cherish forever. It's become tradition to give gifts to every member of the family, but watching the little ones untie bows and rip open wrapping paper is just priceless. Most children get quite picky as they get older, hoping for the newest gadgets, toys and games and so it's not always easy to find something perfectly pleasing. Today I'm going to help you out a little with part 3, the last in my series of Chanuka gift guides this year. It's geared towards kids of all ages with something to suit each budget. Love and security are the best gifts you can give your children! In your rush to find suitable presents for your loved ones before the 8 nights are over, try not to lose sight of what is truly most important.

For The Toddlers:



For Middle-Schoolers:



For Teenagers:


Thanks so much for stopping in!

Have a very Happy Chanuka everyone!

Do you have some gift ideas to share? Leave them in the comments form below, I am sure they will be helpful to someone out there! ;)

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              Gigi. 

Sweet Potato Latkes with a Grape Salsa Recipe


I wish I could say I'm done preparing for my house warming party on Sunday, I'm not. As always I am sure I will get it all together within the next few days. I need to plan, clean, organize, cook, write lists and then do all of that some more. I decided to take a much needed break to share a great recipe with you all. It's one I literally stumbled upon this week while playing around in my kitchen. I usually plan my recipes, thinking of flavors that work well to compliment each other etc. This one just happened.

Latkes are fundamental part of my Chanuka. They are potato fried goodness, nothing to be shocked about there! Each year I prepare some of the classic ones of course and I also have fun thinking of new creative ways to take my latkes up a notch. Last year it was beet latkes and some that had a jalapeno apple salsa. Being that Thanksgiving and Chanuka cross this year, the ones I'm about to share with you turned out to be absolutely perfect with the main ingredient being sweet potato.  

If you love a good latke like I do, then you really need to try version, the grapes may sound a bit funky but I am being honest when I say, these turned out utterly fantastic!


Sweet Potato Latkes with a Grape Salsa 

Yields: about 12 Medium Latkes

Ingredients: 

Latkes:

1 Large Sweet Potato
1 Large Yukon Gold Potato
1 Medium Sized Onion  
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
A sprinkle of All Spice

Oil For Frying

Grape Salsa:
15 Grapes, Chopped Small
1 Small Red Onion, Chopped Small
1 Green Chili Pepper, Chopped Small
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
2 Splashes Red Cooking Wine
1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

1. Peel the sweet potato and regular potato and put them through a food processor fitted with a shredding blade. Add in the onion. 

2. Move the shredded vegetables into a large mixing bowl and add in the egg, flour, baking powder salt, pepper and all spice. Mix well. 

3. Pour some oil into a cast iron skillet. It should reach about an inch or so up the side of the pan. Heat it up until it's sizzling and then lower it to a low-medium flame. 

4. Once the oil is ready to fry you can start making the latkes. I like to work with clean hands and measure out a patty about the size of my palm. That's about 2-3 tablespoons. Drop them in one at a time. Make sure not to overcrowd them so only 2-3 should fry at a time depending how large your skillet is. Press them down with the back of a spatula and allow them to cook for about 2 minutes before flipping them. You will want to make the judgement of wether they are browned and cooked through on the inside at this point too. Remove each of them to a paper towel lined plate when they are finished frying. 

5. Combine the chopped grapes, red onion and green chile along with the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, red wine, salt and pepper and serve each latke with a spoonful of this salsa mixture.  


Thanks so much for stopping in!

If you do cook up some of these latkes, please do share your feedback or photos, I absolutely love hearing from you! 

Look out for part 3 of my Chanuka gift guide series coming soon!

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              Gigi. 

Chanuka Gift Guide 2013 Part 2: For The Men

Shopping for gifts for men is no easy task. You can't just buy them a pair of fuzzy socks, a  typical sweater, a corkscrew or gift card. Part 2 of my annual Chanuka gift guide will solve that problem with ease. There is something to suit everyone with every budget in mind too so if you are still on the lookout for the perfect gift this may be helpful to you.

For the Tech Savvy Man:



For the Well Dressed Man



Some Extras:


Thanks so much for stopping by!

Did you find what you were looking for?  Look out for part 3 of the gift guides and that one will be for the children and don't forget to check out the one I put up for women here.

Do you have some gift ideas to share? Leave them in the comments form below, I am sure they will be helpful to someone out there! ;)

Stay updated!

Don't forget to follow me with Bloglovin' 

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              Gigi. 

Chanuka Gift Guide 2013 Part 1: For The Women

Donuts, latkes, time spent with family, these are all things I am looking forward to this year when Chanuka arrives. We plan to have a house warming party in our home as well over the holiday because we've now lived here for about a month or so and what better time is there to bring family and friends together for a Chanuka party? I plan to cook enough to feed a lot of people and set the dining room and living room area of my house up for the party with centerpieces and what not. We'll see what I have time for. It's already been taking some time to organize it all which includes inviting people and planning my menu. There is one thing I have still not done and that is GIFTS. I'm always a little late on it anyways but it really kind of crept up on me again this year. In my defense it does fall out earlier on the calendar this year then usual.

 If you don't have gifts for some of your beloved family and friends yet like me, have no fear. I have you covered as usual with my yearly gift guide. Perhaps it will help you choose something that works for your budget and is just what that special person was wishing for. This is going to be a three part gift guide as usual with one for the men and children coming up later on in the week. Part one of the gift guides is for the females in your life wether that be your mom, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, grandma, daughter or really close friend. I'm seperating it into categories of interest like beauty, fashion, cooking etc to suit all sorts of tastes and there will be items from every price bracket too so there will be something to suit every budget as well. Keep in mind that it's not too important how big or small your gift is because it is from you and that on it's own is thoughtful enough. To me, the gift of kindness and friendship is what I appreciate most (not to say I don't like gifts like any other normal women)

On to the gift guide, don't see what you were looking for here? Feel free to shoot me a comment or message and I would be happy to help you out in finding that perfect gift. Each product is linked, so just give it a click if you think it's something you'd like to add to your holiday shopping list. 

For the Beauty Besotted


For The Fashion Fanatics

J. Crew Collection Ruffle Trim Chiffon Blouse
Zara Leopord Print Tights

Halogen Dolman Sleeve Tunic Sweater
Betsey Johnson Crystal Bezel Leapord Strap Watch 
Christopher Kane Cobweb Hem Wool Skirt

Forever 21 Street Cool Laquered Chain Necklace
Diane Von Furstenberg Franco Leather Hobo 
DV by Dolce Vita Gorgeous Flat
Topshop Whipstick Bow Belt
Tory Burch Natalie Satchel
Zara Pack of Thin Rings
Forever 21 Sweet Rose Skater Dress 
Burak Uyan Suede Cut Out Boots
Modcloth Earrings
Kate Spade Festive Bubbles Iphone Case
Forever 21 Touch of Glam Sequined Scarf
Enzo Engolini "Ellerby" Boots
Zara Knitted Hat
Bailey Mernel Woven Fedora
Kate Spade New York Bright Spot Boxes Stud Earrings
Marc by Marc Jacobs 56MM Retro Sunglasses

For The Dashing Decorators 

Threshhold Pendulum Wall Clock
Maples Fretwork Accent Rung
INC Internationall 18" Pillows
Room Essentials Acrylic Rectangular Lamp
Multi Stem Purple Faux Orchids in Black Pot
Mikasa Dinnerware, Daylight Mug
Imax Norte Cutwork Candles
Threshhold Lattice Red Serving Tray
Kate Spade New York Spots Clock
Uttermost Mirror, Alita 32"
Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful Art Print
Bitmore Candle Holder
Regina Andrew Java Black Modo Bolstered Lounge Chair
Black and White Patchwork Pillow
Faux Fur Throw
La Lebo Classic Laurier 62 Candle
Agave Plant

For the Creative Crafters

Royal Small Clear Case Watercolor Painting Set
Chain Diamond Cut Gold
Hot-Fix Glass Rhinestones Value Pack
White Doily Lace Print on Black Washi Tape
Luxury Faux Craft Fur
Cuttlebug V2 Embossing and Die Cutting Machine
Italian Flush Wire Cutter Jewelry Craft Tool
Inkadinkado Wood Stamp Upper Case Alphabet
Darice Rhinestone Setter Hot Fix Applicator Tool
Magnetic Printable Sheets
Darby Smart Crystal Clear Box Clutch 
Martha Stewart Crafts Rich Essentials Glitter Set 24 Pack
Fiskars Surecut Paper Trimmer
Simply Handmade Creative Scrapbooking Magazine

For the Fun Foodies


The Modern Menu By Kim Kushner Recipe Book
Chocomaker Candy Melter and Fondue Pot
Miniature Small Glass Milk Bottles
Bake it Pretty Raspberry Pink Chevron Cupcake Liners
Pancake Pen 
Mocubo Modular Cutting Board
Microwave Pasta Cooker
Trudeau Graviti Electric Salt & Pepper Mills 
Artisinal Bamboo Salt Chest
Press and Measure Herb Infuser
Bake It Pretty Bee Hive Cookie Cutter
The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer Cookbook


Thanks so much for stopping in!

Did you find what you were looking for? Keep an eye out for part 2 and 3- gifts for men and children in mind later this week!

Do you have some gift ideas to share? Leave them in the comments form below, I am sure they will be helpful to someone out there! ;)

Stay updated!

Don't forget to follow me with Bloglovin' 

You can also follow me with:
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XX.
              Gigi. 

A Lush Haul


As you may have guessed from the title I've been doing some beauty shopping again. This haul is a bit different then my others though since it's mostly bath goodies and they are from LUSH!! I've been trying to control myself with the whole beauty shopping thing for the past little while what with the biggest purchase of my life having happened- the new house. As it was my birthday at the end of October and I didn't do anything really special to celebrate, I thought it would be nice to pamper myself with some new items straight from Novembers wishlist. When I have some extra time in the evening to relax or in the case that I've just done a crazy workout I'll usually head straight for the bath with some candles and a face mask. I don't get to do this quite as often as I'd like but those are moments I don't take for granted! Since I'd never tried anything from Lush and they are no secret amongst beauty bloggers for being some of the best bath items, I thought it would be about time I got my hands on some for myself. It was truly difficult to choose these items since Lush offers so many awesome products. I decided to go with a couple of bath bombs, a bath melt, a bubble bar, a face mask and a lip scrub. I figured this would be the best introduction to the brand in seeing what I like best for future purchases. (There will be some) As is routine for me, I've uploaded a video for the week and it is all about this haul plus some beauty and fashion items I snuck in as well. Go watch that here for more details or read to the end of the post where I will insert it as usual. 


 Here's what I got:

The Enchanter Bath Bomb- This yellow and orange bath bomb kind of looks like a planet to me since it has a ring of sorts around it and it's round and colorful in patches! 

What Lush says about it: 
"Slowly frothing and bobbing about, The Enchanter tumbles around the tub, releasing layer upon layer of gorgeous colors, reminiscent of a summer sunset. The colors are almost as enchanting as the fresh lime and neroli oil fragrance, made to make your day brighter." 

The Luxury Lush Pud Bath Bomb- I love all of the little colorful circles in this one and the fact that it's purple makes it even more girly, I can't wait to use this one. 

What Lush says about it: 
"Studded with polka dots of color that float to the surface making pastel islands in the water...Magnificent aroma of lavender oil, sweet benzoin and comforting tonka absolute. Sink in for a fluffy, frothy end-of-day soak."

Cinders Bath Bomb- I couldn't help myself and as soon as I got these items home I almost immediately started up a bath and used this one. It was AMAZING to put it simply. The water turned a dark yellow and frothed up like a tide pool. It had a lovely citrus aroma and was most relaxing I have to say.  

What Lush says about it:

 "This spicy soak also has hydrating almond oil to keep your skin super soft and smooth. With a bathtub so inviting, you can skip the open fire and curl up with this fizzer instead."


Star Light Star Bright Bath Melt- Of all of the items I got I think this one is and will be my biggest regret because of the mess it makes. With the slightest contact you end up with glitter everywhere. I will obviously use it and it'll probably be gorgeous but I think it'll also be the biggest mess in my tub. I chose it because it was silver, sparkly and stars are my favorite. I don't think I was expecting it to be so glittery though. 

Rose Jam Bubble Bar- I'm pretty sure this is my favorite of the bath items I got. It's pink, it smells floral and fruity and it has moisturizing properties for the skin. It was to be expected I guess. 


Catastrophic Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask-I like to try new face masks from time to time to battle any breakouts I may bump into. Lately it's been my chin area that's acting up and I find that trying a new skin product is sometimes just the thing to overcome those nasty blemishes! Of all the ones I've tried this is the first I've had to refrigerate which gives the skin a calming and cooling feeling when it's applied. This is one is a clay mask packed with fresh blueberries that smell divine. I haven't noticed any distuinguishable difference in my skin yet but then I haven't really used it enough yet either. 
Bubblegum Lip Scrub- If you've heard of Lush then you've heard of their famous lip scrubs too. I don't know what I was doing without this in my life before. It's a great addition to my daily fall and winter routines because it exfoliates dry lips and prepares them for any lip products you may apply. The scent takes me back to good childhood memories too. 

  

I am so impressed with the ones I've tried so far and I love that these products are handmade, fresh and cruelty free since I looove animals! I can't wait to enjoy more from this company! Look out for  individual reviews on some of these items coming soon.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Have you tried something from Lush that you absolutely love, please recommend it to me in the comments below, I love getting your ideas!!

Stay updated!

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XX.
              Gigi. 

Mini Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Tomato Sauce Recipe


High fives for being able to finally cook in my new kitchen! I have not yet had my back splash installed but that isn't stopping me. I've waited patiently enough don't you think? At the end of this month we will be greeted by Thanksgiving and Chanuka both and I always like to offer my seasonal and holiday dishes. I normally plan it all weeks in advance but this time was different with no real time frame on when I'd actually be able to cook in an oven (instead of pulling things out of the freezer to pop in the microwave and toaster.) These meatballs are of some of the first real dishes to be produced in my new kitchen and they were incredible! I love mini foods as you may know already because they make perfect appetizers or party food.


If you plan on having a Thanksgiving gathering and don't necessarily want to cook an entire turkey, these would be a very good option. They can easily be made in advance too. There will be a turkey in my home this year some time during Chanuka perhaps. I haven't decided on a sauce or stuffing yet but I'll get there soon I'm sure. I think alot of people are intimidated since it can end up really dry if not looked after ( I've had a good amount of turkey recipes go dry on me ). I shared a recipe for a whole turkey last year. I worried over it to no end but it turned out so moist and perfect. There were step by step photos and instructions too, if your interested go check that out here. These mini turkey meatballs with cranberry tomato sauce were flavorful with a great texture. I used lean ground turkey and baked the meatballs for a healthier alternative. It's worth adding that I used white meat (the only choice available where I shopped) for this dish even though I prefer dark meat which is less dry when cooked.  At the same time, the recipe is pretty basic and you can easily alter it to your taste if you'd like. I served them over some couscous, spaghetti would be great too and for easy entertaining I'd lay them out with toothpicks on a serving tray. The possibilities are endless! 


Mini Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Tomato Sauce

Servings: about 24 Mini Meatballs

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

1 lb. Lean Ground White Turkey Meat 
1 Medium Onion, Chopped Small
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, Chopped Very Small
1 Egg
1/4 Cup of Flavored Panko (I used Mexican since it's what I had)
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Cranberry Tomato Sauce:

1 15 Oz. Can Tomato Sauce
1 16 Oz. Can Pre-made Cranberry Sauce (or homemade)
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Allspice
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Method: 

1. Combine the turkey meat, chopped onion, chopped garlic, egg, panko, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Mix well using your hands if you need to get it all evenly put together. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350.

3. Lay a piece of parchment paper out on a baking pan or cookie sheet. Pick up two pinches of the meat and roll it out into a ball. Lay each one out in a row evenly spaced. I was able to fit 12 on each sheet without crowding them. Try to ensure they are uniform in size as you are rolling them since they will appear nice that way. 

4. Put them in the oven for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on them to be sure they don't overcook which could dry them out. 

5. Put the tomato sauce, cranberry sauce, chicken stock, salt and pepper into a large pot on the stove top over a medium flame. Stir constantly to bring it all together. Bring it to a boil and then allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes or so. Add the brown sugar and all spice and then cook for 2 more minutes before shutting the flame. 

 6. Remove the meatballs from the oven and serve them immediately while warm. Top each one with a spoonful of the tomato cranberry sauce or as much as you'd like. The sauce can be poured into a bowl and served along side them as well if preferred. 

Thanks so much for stopping in!

If you do cook up this recipe, please let me know how it turns out, I love hearing your feedback! 

Stay updated!

Don't forget to follow me with Bloglovin' 

You can also follow me with:
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XX.
              Gigi.
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