Did your significant other forget to buy you chocolate for Valentine’s Day? (Ahem.) Or maybe you just want to treat yourself to some chocolaty lovin’, or stock up on gifts for friends. Really, you don’t even need a reason to click here and get a box of organic chocolates by VivaTerra, each with its own inspired design. (I already ordered mine.) The box of six includes ingredients like pistachios, dried cherries, and cocoa nibs. On sale for $5 (marked down from $16) at VivaTerra.


If you have a record of killing plant life (such as myself), perhaps the best way to bring the outdoors inside is through some creative decor. These garden-inspired dinner plates will certainly do the trick. The bold green and white pattern would be gorgeous with white table linens for a sophisticated, natural look. Or, I can imagine a place setting with pink linens for something a little more…tropical? The plates are made of glass.  A set of four is on sale for $29.99 (marked down from $38.95) at wrapables.com.

This past year I’ve become obsessed with reusable shopping bags to the point where my local grocers don’t even reach for a plastic bag after they ring me up, and instead wait for me to whip out my own (though they never offer to fill it, and I end up having to do that job myself, unlike with the plastic bags…which I don’t get).  But what about when you’re going to pick up a few bottles of wine? The idea of them rolling around and clinking against each other sounds like a recipe for disaster. So I like the idea of a reusable shopping bag just for bottles. The bag pictured here is designed by Reisenthel, a 30+ year old German company known for its functional designs. It also comes in two other colors–black and floral.  $12.74 at reusableshoppingbags.com.

When you’re cooking it just feels nice to prep your ingredients in bowls that happen to look great on your counter top, too. This gorgeous set of blue melamine bowls by Martha Stewart is on sale for half off the original price at Macy’s. I love the different shades of blue and the fact that they’re a great space-saver.  On sale for $17.50 (marked down from $34.99) at Macy’s.

My mother-in-law introduced me to this great spice rub for salmon, created by James Beard award winner, Tom Douglas. Normally I don’t like shortcuts like pre-mixed spices or sauces, but this one is worth adding to your cabinet if you make salmon fairly often. It has a sweet and tangy flavor, and all you do is mix it with olive oil, rub it on top of your salmon fillets or steaks, and bake or broil until the fish is done to your liking. The “Rub With Love” line also includes rubs for steak and chicken (pictured here) but I can only vouch for the salmon. $6.89 at amazon.com and $7 at Sur La Table.

These adorable pink vintage-style glasses are on sale now for just $9.99 (reduced from $39.99) for a set of six at JCPenney. They’d be great to use with lunch or brunch, or for wine. Or, simply whenever you want to feel special while drinking your morning OJ. The store is actually having a pretty big sale and there are other great items that are marked down, too (like this bookshelf for just $49.99–a similar version of which I’ve seen at West Elm). But these glasses are my favorite find.

I love to entertain, but all the planning tends to stress me out. Which is why I was so glad when I stumbled upon this easy appetizer of goat cheese, lemon and thyme in the July 2008 issue of Gourmet that takes all of 10 minutes to prepare and looks and tastes delicious.  It’s  become one of my staples (I think the lemon zest makes it memorable). The exact recipe is here.

Sur La Table Colander

A friend of mine sent me one of these mini colanders as a gift, and it’s become one of my favorite things. It comes in a variety of colors–I have the turquoise. It’s also easy to store (which is great if you have a small kitchen like me) and doesn’t take up much space in your sink.  I find that the only time I need to use my big colander now is with big heaps of pasta or when I am washing greens or veggies in bulk. $7.95 at Sur La Table.