My list of favorite things for 2021 is here! It’s a curated list of my discoveries over the past year. The list includes all the fun items I LOVE for entertaining my own guests and I know you will love it for your guests and (shhh) for pampering yourself too!
As many of you know I am a lush when it comes to red wine. For me, it is always quite fabulous when you find an everyday, affordable wine that hits the spot. At the moment that would be a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and petite Sirah blend from Paso Robles called Rabble’s Red Blend. It has a fun energetic label and tastes quite delicious with vibrant tones of dark cherry and blackberries. The experts say it has silky tannins with a touch of sweet oak! Maybe that’s why I like it? One other note: I am not a fan of screw tops, but there is something to be said for the ease of it. When you have had a long day at work, there is nothing like getting home and simply unscrewing the bottle of wine, enjoying that first pour, and hearing my favorite sound, *glug glug glug.* The first sip always brings a smile and feeling of contentment, *ahhh.*
Looking back, I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this product, but I know the attraction had to do with its ingredients. It’s all-natural and made of the finest whole, active botanicals and beautifying nutrients. Applying this delightful serum is a daily ritual I have indulged in over the past year. Perhaps it is my imagination, but I see a vibrancy in my skin that I do not want to give up! LOL. I invite you to add this serum to your skin routine or gift it to that person on your list who has everything.
My favorite show of the year on Apple TV+. Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, is a small-town, American football coach who is hired by a professional football (soccer) team in England, despite having no experience in coaching soccer. I immediately fell in LOVE with all the fabulous characters, and it has a positive message tucked in with honesty and humor, which I believe was brilliantly done and was a much needed boost of comfort we were all ready to embrace during the pandemic. Apparently, I am not on my own in my love for the show since it has since won many Emmys. LOVE that! I must say, like probably most of the viewers, I was intrigued by the gift in that little pink box he gave his boss everyday, only to discover it was shortbread. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you our family shortbread recipe that has become a signature item at Good Gracious! Watch Joanne make our 3-ingredient shortbread on TikTok to celebrate the show. We too think it is quite delicious! Why not make some to impress a friend or loved one this holiday season? Here is the recipe:
Makes 20 pieces (1/4 sheet tray)
- 3 cups a.p. flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup cold butter chopped in small cubes
- Mix everything together in a bowl. Crumble lightly through you finger so the butter incorporating in the flour. Not pushing too hard and making chunks.
- Pour the bowl of filling onto a flat, lightly sprayed 1/4 sheet pan.
- Evenly spread the crumble and lightly cover with plastic and push evenly on the shortbread all over with a metal spatula.
- Bake the base in a convection oven at 325ºF for about 15-17 minutes so it has a slight brown color and springs back when touched in the middle.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup granulated sugar over the shortbread right when it comes out of the oven.
- When cooled you can cut into pieces.
My Culinary Love Story by Pauline Parry
Of course I had to add my new book to this list of my favorite things of 2021. This has been a journey that I have been tremendously excited about and eager to share with you all. Actually getting to the final stages of the book being published in 2022 is something I’ve waited for since the beginning of the pandemic! It is a story of how I began my career in the industry, my love story with Dennis, our passion for food and wine and how and why we came to America. The story is accompanied by 60-plus recipes and has lovely watercolor paintings of the food. Visit my website or Instagram to get book updates. The cover is in the process of being designed but here is a print I am considering. What do you think?
Who wouldn’t LOVE to have a customizable Champagne split vending machine at home? What FUN! What could be better than French Champagne at the push of a button? It is the ultimate luxury at a pretty price point of $38,000. All I need to do now is to win the lottery, huh?!
My daughter-in-law, Lauren, introduced me to Margaux, a New York designer whose shoes are crafted in Spain. The best part is these unique shoes are produced in several different widths! Yes, I love the opportunity to have a choice of width! Followers of my blog will know I got the bug of wearing fashionable sneakers a couple years ago and am not sure why it took me so long to catch on! Needless to say, nowadays, I am always on the lookout for comfortable, stylish designs. This holiday, I have been smitten with these beautiful burgundy velvet sneakers with satin laces! Who could resist?!
I always love to see the spirit of entrepreneurship, and whenever possible, I support and encourage the possibilities it can bring to the marketplace. These new, hand-crafted simple syrups are made with organic ingredients and small-batched in Los Angeles. If you enjoy cocktails, this product is must-have. Their offerings feature wonderfully creative combinations of flavors such as Kumquat, basil and so many more exotic flavors As a bonus, each jar is beautifully packaged and ready for gifting! Alley Henry is the creator of these syrups and is at the beginning stages of developing her company. For now, you can find Alley on Facebook or Instagram and reach out to her to purchase the product.
I’d love to hear what things have brought you joy this year! Leave me a note in the comments!