Thursday, January 26, 2012

St Tropez...................gone gift wrapping

This makes me want to head where the sun shines bright and hot.....somewhere where you wear scarf turbans and cool cotton caftans. St. Tropez perhaps. When I received my Jo Malone refill order a few weeks ago there was a nice supply of gray and white stripe tissue that made me want to explore a more summery gift wrap presentation. Pinstripes always make me think of summer Once the tissue wrinkles were ironed out so easy I got going and by chance came across this fashionable Leggiadro illustration from a 2009 copy of Town & Country. Bonus.

If I have said it once, I have said it at least a hundred times..............there is gift wrapping ideas in those old magazines. I am always on the hunt for fun and fashionable images that will give gifts a more unique and personable appearance. I will match this one up to a friend who loves the sun and wearing designer shades. 

My gift wrapping dose of Vitamin D. 

Thank you to readers who commented this past week and a sunny and
warm welcome to new followers. 

Photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A little remind you

Hope you are having a most wonderful weekend.............
and remember life really is quite short and quite funny.
I love to laugh and hope you do too. 

Photo via Pinterest 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The most fascinating floral idea

It is rare that I go visit the world of wedding blogs unless I want to lose myself for hours in silk, satin, and tulle and truthfully sometimes I do. I also lose myself in the pure creativity that romance inspires. Perhaps it is the passion of the occasion that gives brides their extreme dose of creativity and that is the part that I find so fascinating in the world of weddings. The details. When I saw this floral arrangement on Style Me Pretty, I was in awe of this clever idea, a raised blanket of fresh florals in gorgeous colours. Brilliant. Fascinating. 

Though I am sure that brides will embrace this DIY idea of using metal pegboard and dangling stems, wouldn't it be fascinating on a dinner party table as well? See more views here.

Love this presentation idea as well from here, certainly as a wedding centerpiece or for any occasion but what a spectacular way to bring a floral gift to a deserving hostess............ or for any reason at all. 

Photos linked at source

Friday, January 13, 2012

Granola Gifting................hello comfort

Even though it doesn't seem like winter yet, such an unseasonably mild stretch this year I must be feeling some type of winter nesting urge because I am cooking and baking up a storm over here. Lately I have been referring to Pinterest using my board labeled Hungry as an online recipe source, you have thought of using it that way haven't you? I tried a chocolate sour cream cake that was quite yummy but I must say the chocolate frosting was incredible. In between trying new recipes I have been baking up more than a few batches of the Granola recipe from our trip to Rancho de los Caballeros that I told you about in this post here

You might remember that the recipe was restaurant-huge so I halved it and still ended up with three professional sized trays, more than enough to bring some Hello comfort to anyone I see in the next week. So far that has included my yogurt loving manicurist, my dog sitter, four friends, and a former client. There is some major comfort in granola and what better way to say a winter hello? 

I just happened to have a set of twelve glass jars in my storage room so they worked out quite good for my ranch granola gifting and I was able to use my rubber stamps, tags, and labels from Besotted that I posted about before the holidays. The Ultimate Stationery Set was one of the best self-gifting presents I have ever bought for myself. I am thinking I may try to order a Homemade stamp, I have the Handmade one though I think that applies to crafts and sewing............though the granola was handmade so to speak wasn't it?

Just so you know, this granola is to die for.............really. 
I might be doing gift refills all winter long. Which may only be a few short months now...............

iphone photos by Sande Chase

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Any gift envelope.............embellished and special

When I saw this gorgeous gift wrapping on Haute Design after the holidays while catching up on my favorite blogs I had a quick thought. I wonder if these are gift envelopes? If so, all the better and more impressive, do you use ribbon to dress up your gift envelopes? And why not? Nothing could make the recipient of a simple envelope feel all the more special whether it be a heartfelt birthday greeting, a pair of show tickets, a gift certificate, a spa day, and most especially a wedding gift card (I always wrap wedding cards with a beautiful ivory satin bow). From this day forward...........let's embellish our envelopes. It's a thoughtful touch that makes the giving and the receiving all the more special for all of us.

Photo found here via Sarah Klassen - Haute Design

Friday, January 6, 2012

Soft Landing in 2012

I prefer soft landings in the New Year. Give me a few weeks to ease into thinking too hard about resolutions, to-do lists, and goals. I sort of putter about, doing a few tasks that make me feel a bit productive but nothing too challenging. One of the things I try to do is clean up my photo files which I did yesterday. To make it fun I always try to find a favorite photo. And this is soft landing in 2012. Dreamy, soft, layered with colour and movement. Much of what I wish in 2012 for you and me. 

Photo via my Tumblr

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Ranch daily treat

I noticed after my last post that it was all about the cowboys. I did see some women wranglers, just a few but they sure walked the walk and looked the look. I am guessing that riding horses all day keeps you in fine shape and I am also guessing that they stay away from over-indulging in the delicious ranch granola. It is certainly one of the best granola recipes I have ever tasted and as soon as I shake this airplane cold, those hot trays will be coming in and out of my ovens. 

It wasn't until I read the Rancho de los Caballeros granola recipe on the flight home that I realized they obviously make this in huge breakfast batches as it is one of their most popular recipe requests. They told me it freezes well so I am going to make the supersized batch and give jars as crunchy treats to some of my friends. You can adjust the fixins to suit your appetite. 

Everything in moderation, which definitely includes granola. But this crunchy treat sure adds a good bit of fiber and taste to smooth yogurt, another healthy favorite. I add in diced bananas, fresh pomegranate, blueberries, chopped walnuts and a bit of honey to Greek yogurt, then layer it with granola..........the taste highlight of my day. I have never gained an ounce eating this each and every night for the past two years but I can't say I have lost any either. Some people love a glass of wine each day. I weirdly feel that way about granola, especially when it is homemade. 

Rancho de los Caballeros Homemade Granola

15 cups old fashioned rolled oats
5 cups sweetened coconut flakes
5 cups slivered almonds
2.5 cups vegetable oil
2 cups brown sugar
1.5 cups honey
5 tsp. cinnamon
5 tsp. salt

Mix all of the above ingredients, spray your cookie sheet with Pam (or line your trays with parchment paper) and bake at 325 degrees. Bake until the granola begins to brown which is approximately 15 to 25 minutes, you might want to check midway and stir it up a bit. I would suggest  leaving some bigger granola clusters. Allow to cool and mix in the following dried fruits which can be chopped to any size you prefer. Will keep stored in a container for 2 weeks but as I mentioned, it freezes well. 

1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried prunes
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup golden raisins.

If you happen to like your granola fruit a bit softer, you can use this slow-roasted Cranberry Coconut Granola recipe found here which includes the healthy addition of flax and sesame seeds and extra-virgin olive oil instead of the typical vegetable oil. Either recipe makes for hearty and thoughtful granola gifting..........who wouldn't enjoy that in the wintry months ahead?

Top photo by Sande Chase/Photo 2, 3, and 4 via Pinterest here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

We brought a Cowboy back from Wickenburg, Arizona

Our new cowboy saddling up on Cricket.

They say a good vacation is one where you experience new things as a family. A break in tradition. I would have to say that our Christmas week at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona was all of that and more. Along with perfect weather and blue skies in the Sonoran desert, we all came home with the feeling we had a most unique vacation in a most beautiful setting. Rancho de los Cabarellos is more of a family resort than a dude ranch so it isn't roughing it on any level but keeping with the relaxed tone you can wear jeans on their championship golf course.

Austin started the cow penning competition with a mild-mannered horse that he jokingly nicknamed "Narcolepsy" as he was sure it was dozing at times. Riders of all levels are well-matched to horses by the wrangler team who carefully watch your increasing skill level. By the end of the week our adventurous son was loping every chance he got and loving every minute of it. We all loved that a golf course, swimming, and tennis courts were just outside our door, the Trap & Skeet Shooting, the picturesque Bradshaw mountains, stargazing, nature hikes, the delicious cookout ride and some Camelback mountain climbing in Scottsdale. The hospitable Rancho de los Caballeros is full of families, many arriving annually so the groups get bigger and bigger with grandchildren being added every year. It is also known as a corporate getaway. 

Switching to a feistier mount named Bon Jovi, those competitive greenhorns of mine want to win this Team Penning competition. Not so fast boys......... husband's "Tumble" which happened within our first hour at the ranch. You can see his horse still bucking and Austin's horse reacting. A few tense minutes which pretty well sealed my skittish horse fear as I observed this tumble in slow motion. My husband grew up with horses on their property so even old hands can take a tumble now and again. Just so you know, this has only happened 3 times in 5 years at the ranch. He wasn't the one we expected to tumble was he?

Once he was checked over by his son for injuries, Jim dusted off his pride, retrieved his sunglasses and headed over to saddle up on another horse with the amicable and relieved head wrangler Willum who tried his darnest to mentally condition me for a trail ride after witnessing Jim's "tumble".  

The "building confidence" talk with Head Wrangler Willum. I did manage to lead Powder River around the corral but thankfully no surprise loping as mentioned in my former horse experiences here. Truthfully........I just don't have that adventurist Annie Oakley personality. But our son sures does.

Father and son heading out for an afternoon ride while this cowgirl walked over to the Ranch spa where I had the absolute best 90 minute massage......ever. Should you ever make your way to this western resort spa, ask for Lynell.

Yes, that's me, the failed Annie Oakley wannabee on Powder River with my matching boots and hair pure coincidence. I should be wearing my jeans but I was already feeling the effects of the delicious ranch meals and I suspect Powder was feeling it too. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style but dinner is a jacket or western vest sit down menu dinner. Every dinner was delicious and we would share bites to try it all. I am a yogurt lover and a self-appointed granola connoisseur if there is such a thing, I was able to lasso the recipe for their homemade granola and as soon as I go into town and get some supplies I will share the popular Caballeros granola recipe. 

Heading out to the ravine trail with Lowell, the genial and experienced 89-year old wrangler who told the guys everything they need to know about the desert and horseback riding. The ranch offers two trail rides a day, morning and afternoon which differ in their direction and skill. These two guys need some cowboy hats, not just to look the part but to sun protect their ears and necks. I also think they need a few more plaid shirts and one of those western bolo neckties...........look the part a bit more.

The town of Wickenburg is located about 1.5 hrs. from Phoenix and is the home of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. A surprisingly large private collection of local mining history, western artifacts, and artwork and well worth the visit into town. This area was originally known as the dude ranch capital with many ranches but there is just a few left. Los Caballeros has been here since 1948 and is one of the Historic Hotels of America. 

The Lone Ranger contemplating how many years it will take to earn his own ranch? Or wondering how soon he can get that horse to lope again. But I think he would agree, there is nothing like riding or loping in the Sonoran desert for new cowboys.

Happy Trails in 2012. I hope you all had a most wonderful holiday and
Happy New Year!

All photos by onsite photographer Melanie Bess Hogan of Saddleback Photography
No conpensation or endorsement was received for this post.


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