Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ring in the New Year with Fizzy St-Germain Gelées

Gelees side view

This New Year’s Eve, try a fabulous alternative to the traditional Champagne toast.

Many of us welcome the new year with a Champagne toast, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. If you’d like your New Year’s Eve to get even bubblier, why not serve some gelées (that’s fancy for gelatin) made with sparkling wine? It’s a Jell-O shot gone upscale, yes, and it’s nifty to see how the fizzy sparkling wine lends a frozen-in-time effervescence to the gelatin.

These are far less boozy than the average gelatin shot, but if you prefer drinks on the sweeter side, you may be better off using Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider instead of the sparkling wine. Unlike the run-of-the-mill Jell-O shot, these don’t contain as much gelatin, so you’re best off serving them directly from small dessert glasses or Champagne flutes.

Gelees close up I

These delectable treats deliciously capture the effervescence of sparkling wine.

Fizzy St-Germain Gelées

Serves 6-8
Feel free to use the liqueur of your choice. Crème de Cassis or Chambord work well.

½ cup St-Germain (elderflower liqueur)
2 envelopes (2 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
3-1/2 cups decent sparkling wine, divided
½ to 1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup pomegranate seeds or other fresh fruit for garnish, optional

Gelees overhead

Fresh fruit garnishes give these delectable gelées festive flair.

Freeze six to eight wine glasses or Champagne flutes for 15 minutes (this will help the gelées retain their bubbles).

Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup St-Germain and set aside to let the gelatin granules swell.

Heat 1 cup of the sparkling wine in a medium saucepan over medium heat; do not allow to boil. Add the sugar and stir gently until all of the sugar is dissolved (use the full cup sugar for less boozy-tasting gelées). Add the softened gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

Gelees close up II

Refrigerate, serve and enjoy. Cheers!

This next step works best in a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup or large pitcher, because the sparkling wine will fizz up, and you don’t want it to spill over. Pour the warm gelatin into the pitcher and slowly add the remaining 2-1/2 cups of sparkling wine. Divide the mixture between the chilled glasses. Refrigerate the glasses for about half an hour, and then drop fresh fruit, if using, onto the surface of the gelées (some fruit will float; some will sink a bit). Refrigerate the gelées until completely set, about five hours. Gelées can be made up to two days in advance.

by Sara Bir


Instant Holiday Gift Box Upgrades

xmas sticker box

Dress up your Heirloom Finds jewelry boxes to add creative pizzazz to your gift giving.

Your Heirloom Finds jewelry arrives boxed and gift-ready, but if you’re wanting to add a little more seasonal splash, here are four ideas using odds and ends you may already have around the house.

Sticker Bonanza

Xmas sticker box in process

These bright office supply stickers add fun pops of color to our white jewelry boxes.

The colorful, inexpensive round labels you find in the office supply section of discount stores make fun mosaics. Simply adhere like fish scales to the lid of your box.

Sheet Music and Vintage Jewelry

xmas sheet music box

Sheet music, a pretty ribbon and a gorgeous vintage clip-on earring combine to make one classy package.

This lonely clip-on earring lost its mate years ago, but now it makes an elegant adornment on this box wrapped in old sheet music.

Glitter Tape

xmas glitter tape box

Sparkly craft glitter and double-sided tape create instant glitz.

If you have double-sided tape and loose glitter, you can shimmer up your own glitter tape. Simply arrange the double-sided tape on the lid of the box, then (carefully) shake on the glitter. Make sure to lay down large sheets of newspaper underneath to collect the excess glitter. You can also do this with confetti.

Mini Snow Globe

xmas snowglobe box

Crafting a DIY snow globe adds classic holiday fun to this Heirloom Finds jewelry box.

Take the clear plastic top from a vending machine toy and repurpose it into a tiny snow globe, using glitter or white paper as snow. Attach the plastic dome on with glue, let it dry, and enjoy the nostalgia.

And remember, gifts are supposed to be fun to give, not stressful. If fancy wrapping isn’t your scene, don’t sweat it! The most meaningful gift you can give is your presence of mind when spending time with loved ones.

by Sara Bir


Bake Colorful, Cranberry-Studded Holiday Bread

Cranberry bread is a delicious alternative to traditional holiday fruitcake.

Fruitcake gets a bad rap. The best examples are dense with flavorful, recognizable fruits—none of those scary kelly green cherries. In England, where fruitcake is serious business and not the butt of jokes, the rituals of preparing holiday fruitcake begin months in advance, so the flavors can age and develop by Christmastime.

This holiday recipe is family tested and approved!

My family always avoided those gluey brown bricks you see at the grocery store. We baked dozens of cookies and kept them in tins in the chilly garage. Mom made multiple batches of her Aunt Margie’s cranberry bread, a bejeweled loaf sweet with golden raisins and tart with garnet-hued fresh cranberries. I always thought of them as quick breads, but they’re much more akin to what fruitcake should be: complex, festive, gorgeous. Unlike their English cousins, these cakes don’t need months of aging and periodic infusions of rum. They keep well, use readily available ingredients, and can easily be made on a whim. In my family, it’s not Christmas without them.

Cranberry bread adds delicious flavor to your holiday baking lineup.

Cranberry Bread Makes three 7 x 3-inch loaves or two 9 x 5-inch loaves These loaves freeze well and make wonderful gifts around the holidays, especially if you bake them in smaller loaf pans. The original family recipe says you can bake two loaves in 1-pound metal coffee cans, though we’ve never tried it before. You may bake them in any size loaf pan, as long as you don’t fill it more than 2/3 with batter. (We use two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch pans, plus one 7 x 3-inch pan, just because that’s what we happen to have.)  2 large eggs 4 cups (1 pound, 2.5 ounces) all-purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans 2 cups (14.5 ounces) granulated sugar 1-1/3 cups orange juice (store-bought is just fine) 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 cups (9.25 ounces) golden raisins 2 cups (9.25 ounces) fresh cranberries, thawed if frozen 2 cups (8 ounces) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour the loaf pans. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until lightened, about three minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add half the flour mixture and mix at medium speed until combined. Dissolve the baking soda in the orange juice (it will foam slightly) and, with the mixer running on low speed, slowly add to the batter. Scrape down the bowl, add the remaining flour mixture, and beat until smooth. Fold in the raisins, cranberries, and pecans (the batter will be quite stiff). Divide the batter between pans, filling no more than 2/3 full. Smooth the tops with a spatula, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes for smaller loaves and 1 hour and 10 minutes for larger loaves. (You may need to tent the loaves with foil midway through baking to keep the tops from browning too much, especially with the larger loaves.)

Share and enjoy!

Cool on a wire rack for five minutes, then remove the bread from the pans and cool completely. The bread will keep well wrapped for up to a week; freeze for up to two months. by Sara Bir


Clever Iconic Jewelry Gifts for Everyone on Your List

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Iconic jewelry is always in style, but it’s especially big this year. With one fell swoop, you can round up the passions of the women and girls on your holiday shopping list and select perfectly-suited gifts. Give them jewelry that will remind them of their own hobbies, loves, and interests and bring a smile to their faces every time they put it on.

The Music-Loving Teen

These crystal microphone earrings will bring out her inner songstress.


This stretch bracelet is ideal for any music enthusiast.

Cassette tape earrings have a great retro vibe.

The Favorite Teacher

Celebrate learning with this fun magnetic clasp bracelet.

She’s sure to love this unique pencil bracelet.

These glitzy apples are absolutely perfect for a fabulous teacher.

The Gardening Sister

This magnetic clasp bracelet is all about garden fresh produce.

Nothing says “flower garden” quite like a gorgeous array of butterflies.

These cute ladybug earrings will definitely steal her heart.


The Trusty Hairdresser

Show your stylist some appreciation with this necklace’s sparkly pair of shears.

These iconic baubles are absolutely ideal for your favorite hairdresser.

Pick a shiny stylist themed bracelet that’s as glamorous as she is.

The Best Friend Who Loves to Cook

This crystal cupcake necklace is simply too sweet!

This tea kettle pendant necklace captures that quintessential kitchen feel.

Incredibly clever peas in a pod jewelry is perfect for the chef in your life.

The Spunky Little Girl

A super fun bracelet for your tiny dancer.

The cool kid in your life will definitely love these fun stud earrings.

Let your sports star shine with this crystal soccer necklace.

The Cat-Loving Aunt

You can’t deny that these hoop earrings are purrfect.

How about this sweet kitten themed magnetic clasp bracelet?

This movable feline brooch is definitely the cat’s meow.

The Equestrian Cousin

This pendant necklace captures a stunning wild horse spirit.

The horse fancier in your life will love these silver tone ponies.

Equestrian glam is what you can expect from this necklace and earrings set.

The Quilting Grandparent

Show your grandmother just how much you care with this heart charm bracelet.

She’ll love this iconic measuring tape necklace.

Any crafter will get a kick out of this thread spool necklace.

The Nature-Loving Sister-In-Law

If she likes camping, she’ll love this lantern pendant necklace.

This eagle themed ring is naturally majestic.

She’ll find these origami squirrel stud earrings to be exceptionally cute.

And while you’re at it, why not get a little inspiration for yourself? Iconic jewelry is a fun conversation starter, and it sparks interest every time you wear it.

by Sara Bir