Imagine That: The Most Hospitable Fruit

In The Studio

Pineapple, that is!

So the story goes, back in the European voyaging days pineapples were very popular with the men and women at court, as were most things deemed exotic from faraway lands. It filtered down to the colonies, but with no refrigeration and the long shipping time between picking and destination, access to a whole, fresh pineapple was a rare and expensive treat. First a symbol of privilege, the pineapple ultimately become a symbol of hospitality as, if you served a whole pineapple to your guests, they knew they were highly favored and being treated like royalty.

Even though pineapples are far easier to come by in any form these days, they’re still a popular choice for guest room decor, newel posts, door knockers, and other home items.

Today’s projects are far less high brow, but very fun!

First, over on the Imagine blog, I’ve come up with a pineapple-inspired wine bottle wrap that would work equally well for a hostess gift or table decor. In fact, I’m sad I didn’t come up with this last year for Todd’s luau party.

Then, using the same ink-shading technique and the cast-off edge from the first project, I make a pineapple-adorned card that would be perfect for welcoming a new neighbor or summer baby.

Pineapple Welcome Card on YouTube

Here’s everything that went into the pineapple card (amazon links may be affiliate links, thanks for supporting my blog!):

Imagine Products:
Fireworks! Spray – Cantaloupe
Brilliance – Coffee Bean
Memento – Desert Sand
Memento Luxe – Dandelion
Sponge Daubers
Memento Markers – Rich Cocoa, Dandelion, Bamboo Leaves
Tear It! Tape

Other Products:
Cardstock – white, dark green (similar)
Patterned Paper – DCWV
Spellbinders – Classic Petal border die
Dienamics – Pierced Oval Stax Dies (similar)
Tape Runner
Helmar Zap Dots (similar)
Paper Trimmer

Don’t forget to check out the Imagine blog to see the video of making the pineapple wine wrap!

Gifting Wine is Mighty Fine


Once again the holidays are upon us and, once again, the invitations are flowing and you–being a polite guest–want to bring something nice for your host or hostess.

Unless you’re specifically asked to bring something to be a part of the event, understand that your host is under no obligation to use or consume your gift that night. In fact, a hostess gift is meant to be enjoyed after the guests have departed, as a thank-you for a pleasant time or a way to unwind.

Flowers can send a hostess into a tizzy, trying to find a vase and a place for them while she’s greeting guests, not to mention potential allergies. If you want to send flowers after the fact, that would be a nice gesture along with a nice thank-you note–seriously, the common courtesies are falling by the way-side, it’d be nice to revive them. Still, it’s nice to show up with something in your hand.

Consumables are the best, and wine is considered quite the gifting commodity. Even if your host doesn’t drink, they can always regift it or keep it around for others that do, so it’s a nice, safe choice unless you know they have moral objections to wine or spirits.

Here are some bottles to be on the look out for, at a variety of price points to fit any occasion and budget (my notes are the ones in italics):

Villa Pozzi Pinot Grigio is perfect for the female friends in your life. Whether it is a coworker or a cousin, let them know you’re thinking of them. This unique Sicilian wine produced by the 4th generation winemakers of the Pozzi family, is ideal for the modern woman with its refined aromatic, well balanced taste profile and simply-elegant packaging. SRP $9.99

White wine has no gender. If you know your friends prefer bright white wines, go for it. We found this Pinot Grigio to be an excellent example of the varietal, nice and fruity and it went pretty well with the chicken and wild rice I was serving last night. It’s also a fabulous wine to cook with, especially if they like risotto.

Girard Artistry is the ideal wine for the important men in your life. Perhaps for your father-in-law who enjoys the finer things in life, or your uncle who likes to unwind after work? It is produced by Girard Winery has been producing world-class wine since 1975 that truly and faithfully represent the unique terroir of the Napa Valley. Girard Artistry is stylistically diverse with elegance, balance, power, and finesse. SRP $39.99

A table wine is a blend of many different varietals that make it a great choice for a range of meals. This particular wine seemed on the medium-bodied side to us, which is what we like. Did we consider it a $40 bottle? Not really. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice if you’re looking to impress someone who finds those sorts of things important.

Ruta 22 Malbec is the gift for the adventurous, travel-lover on your list. Have them explore South America, take them on a journey to Patagonia, which produces the finest Malbec in Argentina. Ruta 22, hand harvested wine, will delight them with its dark ruby red color and fruit forward and elegant taste. SRP $12.99

You might remember we shared this one last year, too. It’s tough to go wrong with a South American Malbec.

[ yellow tail ]  bubbles rosé is for that bubbly person who keeps you smiling! Maybe your girlfriend who brings a smile on your face, or your best friend who is the one you’re sharing laughs with and celebrating life with. SRP $9.99

Sparkling wine is the perfect choice the closer we get to New Year’s Eve–providing the Mayans were wrong, of course, and the world doesn’t end on the 21st. Sweet sparklers are growing in popularity (which is fabulous in my book) and a rosé is a nice stepping stone between the dry and sweet. Yellow Tail is a very affordable tipple, perfect for stocking up for the countdown or any cause for celebration.

I can’t imagine the host, coworker, or Secret Santa that wouldn’t love to receive any of those bottles.

Happy Holidays, my friends. Please remember to celebrate responsibly, use a designated driver or call a cab–jail or the hospital is no way to start the new year!


I was provided samples of the above wines for purposes of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Few Ideas for Those Last-Minute Christmas Gifts


No matter how many lists you make, this time of year it’s practically unheard of not to leave someone off your list. At the very least you’ll receive a last-minute invitation to a dinner, open house or event and, well, of course you want to bring a little something for the host(ess), right?

collage of 4 alcohols that make good holiday and hostess gifts

A bottle of something is always in season, but for Christmas and New Year’s it’s an especially nice gesture to wrap a bottle in a pretty little bag that they can either share now or save for later.

Courtesy of the folks at W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd., here are a few suggestions that are both festive and affordable for all your holiday giving. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have one of these bottles presented to you!

(left) Warm his heart and delight his senses this holiday season with a bottle of Landy Cognac. The holiday season is a time to make him feel special and Landy Cognac will do just that with a refined blend of cognacs from French prestigious origins. Landy Cognac is available in three aging statements – VS, VSO, and XO. He will appreciate it neat, on the rocks, or blended in a delicious cocktail! SRP $ 24.99-$119.99

[Jenn’s Note: Cognac just screams luxury, this is the way to go if you need to impress a boss or maybe a new in-law with something a little different than your usual bottle of wine.] 

(top-right) If you are looking for a great value this holiday consider Barone Fini Pinot Grigio, a reasonably priced white wine with a crisp, clean taste. With its subtle fruit flavors, this wine can be enjoyed with rich holiday meals and allows your guests to enjoy the delicious tastes of the many flavors of the holidays. Barone Fini has long been recognized for producing Pinot Grigio of the highest caliber at a great price point and we would love to share this wonderful product with both you and yours this holiday season. SRP $9.99

[Jenn’s Note: We’re always in favor of a good bottle that comes in under $10 and this Pinot Grigio was absolutely delightful. It was perfect in the Rosemary Risotto I made last week and, of course, the rest was great in the glass to go with dinner.]

(center-right) Prohibition may be over, but America’s love affair with Moonshine has just begun! Original MOONSHINE is the perfect gift for the whiskey fan on your list. Made by a third generation master distiller with his grandfather’s authentic recipe, it is hand-crafted from 100% estate-grown corn and distilled four times in a Prohibition-era copper pot still. At 80 proof, our all-natural, recipe is charcoal-filtered for the highest purity, quality and taste. A truly versatile spirit, SHINE can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a wide range of mixed cocktails…perfect for the holiday season. SRP $39.99

[Jenn’s Note: Moonshine is, for many people, one of those curious novelty alcohols. If you know someone who is always up for something a little different, even having this adorable bottle on their bar will please them to no end.]

(bottom-right) Discover the spirit this holiday season with Ruta 22 Malbec. It’s the only Malbec from Patagonia – the perfect reason to give this unique find as a gift. Wow your loved ones with this one of a kind wine that they can keep for themselves, for that unexpected house guest, or bring to a holiday party and steal the show! Ruta 22 pairs perfectly with red meats, cheeses, and pastas…three favorites at any holiday party, making this wine a great party guest! SRP $12.99

[Jenn’s Note: This was a rich, slightly spicy Malbec that went great with a humble pot roast–I can only imagine what it would be like next to a standing rib roast or other rich and meaty dish. And it’s another steal at under $15!]

Have a wonderful time these next 2 weeks when the conviviality is high on the ol’ priority list! Remember, though, always be safe, use a designated driver and remember moderation in all things. I guarantee you’ll enjoy your holiday more if you’re able to remember it!

Images and product information provided by W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd. Samples were accepted by the blogger for the purpose of review but the opinions expressed in this post are entirely her own.

Random Appetites: the Hostess Gift


What’s the first thing most of us do when we receive an invitation–even a casual one–to a friend or colleague’s home for dinner or a party?

“Can I bring anything?”

Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong in asking; I do it, too. The important thing is to listen to (not just hear) the answer. If a hostess declines your offer to contribute, by all means do not show up with a tray of something for the party. But this only counts for offers to take part in the preparations. A hostess gift–which is separate from the festivities in question–may still be appropriate.

Notice I said appropriate, not mandatory. After all, etiquette does not exist so that we can tell others how and when to act but so that we can educate ourselves on how we should behave.

That said, when is a hostess gift a good idea? Anytime you are invited to a dinner in someone’s home, certainly consider bringing a little something for you host(s) to enjoy later. Casual parties are less appropriate, but if you feel led and know “just the thing”, by all means (open houses fall into this category unless it’s a housewarming, in which case a gift is a definite should).

And then the question becomes, what to bring? Wine and flowers seem to be the most common hostess gifts given, but consider other options, as well. Wine, for instance, would not be appropriate for non-drinkers as they’re not likely to be able to enjoy it (which defeats the whole point!). Flowers often require work for the hostess–finding a vase, cutting and arranging the stems–that may actually add to her workload; again, defeating the purpose of the gift. Having them delivered earlier in the day or the day before is a nice alternative, though, if you really want to give a floral offering. Chocolates are an excellent alternative, if your host has a sweet tooth, but make sure to avoid those with nuts if your knowledge of the host’s allergies is spotty.

But if you know your hosts well, consider their tastes and maybe find something small that they enjoy from a favorite store. Keep in mind that spending a great deal is not necessary, something small and inexpensive is fine. If you enjoy baking, a loaf of bread, coffee cake or muffins are excellent options or some festive cookies or nuts. Wrap them well and try to avoid using a dish that needs to be returned, there are lots of disposable or inexpensive plates, tins and bowls out there that you can package your gift in.

What sort of gifts are not appropriate? Anything overly extravagent, jewelry, risque items in all but the most intimate of circumstances and, of course, any food item that is half-eaten (you would think that is a no-brainer, but my research shows that this is, unfortunately, not unheard of).

A final word to the host that may be presented with any sort of gift. Say a gracious and sincere thank you, a brief word about how much you (and/or your family) will enjoy it later, and then put the gift someplace out of the way. If it is wrapped, open it if there’s time but do not feel obligated to stop your party preparations or make a show of opening it in front of your other guests later (you don’t want to make anyone who didn’t bring a gift uncomfortable). Thank you notes are not required for hostess gifts.