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Silver SPARKLE Tabletop for NEW YEAR'S

Just like trying to get into a hot new club or venturing out for a huge parade, going out on New Year's Eve sounds more fun than it actually is. If you've ever been out on the 31st, you know exactly why it's called "Amateur Night". Bars are packed, restaurants are all full, trains are like sardine cans, and forget about trying to get a cab!

Still, we party-lovers can't resist commemorating the flip of the calendar. How about having a lovely dinner at home, instead? Dress your table in silver and sparkle and ring in the new year without having to shimmy your way through a crowd. This tabletop features the same Mikasa Italian Countryside pattern from my Rough Luxe Thanksgiving and Whimsical Christmas tables. Everything else is from Tablescapes here in Chicago, and is available for rent. Happy New Year!


Five STYLISH gifts for MEN

This selection was curated by Matt Solyst, a writer for my fashion/humor site, You Know You Love Fashion. Matt is an aspiring writer of TV, film and fiction, and you can follow him on Twitter @OldPastureLane.

Tis the season to be gifting, and the gifts of holidays past haunt us around every corner. Finding the perfect holiday gift for your better half seems like the running of the bulls: there will be confusion, chaos, and sometime during it you will say, "Why am I doing this to myself?" Stop running around and take the helpful hand of a handsome Spaniard  – we are here to help. Ole!


Irish Coin Cufflinks
by Erin Gallagher, $150

Jen says: "They also have cufflinks made from old CTA tokens. Now we know where they all went!"


Deja-View Boot
by Kenneth Cole New York, $198

From the Kenneth Cole site: "The simple shape stays cool with an exposed zipper, while the textured sole guarantees you'll always be on firm footing."



Adicolor Airline Bag
by Adidas, currently on sale for $56

Matt says: "I carry a man purse to work, and I’m O.K. with that. Where else am I going to put my iPhone, glasses case, backup contacts lenses, keys, Netflix movie to return, chap stick, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, business card holder, and gum?"



Ginger Twins Tie
by Bird Dog Bay, $75

Jen says: "My husband owns several BDB ties and loves their whimsical patterns. Great quality, too.



Marbled Leather Credit Card Holder
by Jack Spade, $95

From the Jack Spade site: "The Marbled Leather collection is inspired by marble paper lined antique books."


Two fizzy holiday COCKTAILS (with MOCKTAIL options)

From Sierra Mist come two festive cocktails, sure to add zing to your holiday parties! If you're avoiding artificial ingredients - as I am - rest your troubled head with the knowledge that Sierra Mist is made with real sugar, no artificial ingredients, 100% natural flavorings.

I made the two below for a recent party, and while I think I prefer "Meet Me at the Mist-letoe" for the holidays, one of my guests pointed out that "Frost Bite" would be prefect for a holiday-in-the-tropics theme, what with the orange and coconut flavors. Good point.

Visit Sierra Mist's Facebook page for more recipe ideas, and watch for the second post in this series, coming next week (there's a giveaway...)

Frost Bite

• 3 oz. Sierra Mist Natural
• 1 oz. Blue Curacao (substitute 2 oz white grape juice for mocktail)
• 1 oz. Coconut Vodka (substitute 1 oz lime juice for mocktail)
• Fresh mint
• 1 oz. Pineapple juice
• Fresh blueberries for garnish

In a shaker filled with ice, mix coconut vodka (or lime juice) and pineapple juice. Add blue curacao (or white grape juice), fresh mint and blueberries. Shake, strain, and top with Sierra Mist Natural. Garnish with fresh blueberries.


Meet Me At The Mist-letoe...Martini

• 2 oz. Sierra Mist Natural
• 1 ½ oz. Raspberry Vodka (substitute Raspberry juice for mocktail)
• 3 Leaves fresh basil
• ½ oz. Fresh lime juice
• 1 oz. Blueberry juice

In a glass, muddle two basil leaves and lime juice, then add to shaker filled with ice. Add raspberry vodka (or juice) and blueberry juice to the shaker; shake and strain. Top with Sierra Mist Natural and garnish with a basil leaf.


This is a sponsored post, but as ever, opinions are strictly my own.


Small Space Tip: Use nature's refrigerator

Just a quick reminder for all those living in a small space. To make the most of your set-up, sometimes you have to think out of the apartment...

...and onto the back porch or balcony!

Of course, there are much prettier ways to do it (I'm fairly certain this is the work of a resourceful young man not too concerned with aesthetics), and you don't even need to have snow. Keeping drinks outside - just on the other side of the door - is something to consider when you think you're short on space.


Hot Toddy: Mocha MAPLE Coffee

Cold days call for hot drinks! I was flipping through the new book Hot Toddies (filled with all sorts of concoctions just begging for a snow day or three) and spotted this caffeinated wonder...


Mocha Maple Coffee

Reprinted with permission from Hot Toddies (Ryland Peters & Small)

Coffee and chocolate make perfect partners as this delicious drink proves. The addition of sweet, maple syrup flavored cream makes this an indulgent after-dinner drink.

2 cups freshly brewed hot coffee
¼ cup crème de cacao or chocolate syrup
½ cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
finely grated dark chocolate, to serve

Pour the freshly brewed coffee into 2 heatproof glasses and add half of the crème de cacao or chocolate syrup to each one.

Lightly whisk the cream and maple syrup together until the mixture is foaming and thickened slightly. Slowly layer the cream over the surface of the coffee using a flat-bottomed barspoon or a teaspoon. Sprinkle with grated chocolate and serve immediately.

Serves 2

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