Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jacques Torres Chocolate Give Away

In my Thanksgiving post I showed a large chocolate turkey I bought as a centerpiece for the dessert portion of our Thanksgiving dinner, and I promised to tell you more of the shop where I bought it. I went to the Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven located in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, located at 350 Hudson at King Street (1 block South of Houston), New York, New York.

Jacques Torres began his career as a pastry chef in his native France where he worked with distinction and honors. He came to the United States in 1988 to work at the Palm Springs Ritz Carlton Hotel as Corporate Pastry Chef. In 1989 he became the Executive Pastry chef at the exclusive restaurant Le Cirque.  In 2000 he opened his own chocolate factory and shop in Brooklyn, New York, serving a wholesale and retail market.

All photos will enlarge if clicked on once and then again when they open in a new window

In 2004, Jacques opened Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven in Manhattan where he transforms cocoa beans into chocolate bars before your very eyes!  His shop's walls are large windows so you can watch the entire chocolate making process take place, as you can see in the photo collage above.

An interesting short video about Jacques Torres and the stories behind his chocolate shops and factories.

The day I visited the chocolate workers were busy making turkeys for Thanksgiving, and ......

....wonderful snowmen, Santas, Christmas trees and chocolate filled Santa's boots!

Inside the store there is a large counter on one side where you can make your chocolate selections

There were so many wonderful chocolates to choose from!

On the other side of the store is his barista counter with cafe tables where you can purchase a coffee, tea or a delicious hot chocolate.

I could not resist getting a hot chocolate! It's so good!

He also has beautiful gift baskets for sale which can also be ordered through his website, in case you need a wonderful holiday gift!

And now for my give away-- 

I like to buy Jacques Torres' two pound signature "Big Daddy" bars for baking, and I bought an extra Dark Chocolate one on this visit, as I thought it would be a fun give away.  It's 2.2 pounds of his wonderful pure chocolate -- excellent for eating, baking or making hot chocolate, and it is a $22 value!

You can see the complicated process of how Jacques makes his chocolate bars in a video on this link. 

Just leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered in the give away.  If you are a follower of my blog, or become one, I'll give you two chances to win, just let me know in another comment.  I'll use the random.org generator to pick a winning number out of all the comments on December 10th, so you'll receive the bar in time to use for some Christmas baking if you'd like.

Good luck!

I'm joining in on:
Outdoor Wednesday on Susan's blog A Southern Daydreamer
Alphabe Thursday for the letter  "J" on Jenny Matlock's blog
Friday Favorite Linky Party on Sandi's blog The Whistlestop Cafe Cooking

Thanks Susan, Jenny and Sandi!

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Monday, November 29, 2010

HomeGoods for the Holidays

*For the following post I was provided a $25 gift card to Home Goods provided by a BlogHer and HomeGoods promotion.

I love HomeGoods, the store that has a large variety of household goods with savings up to 60% off and new shipments every week so the variety is always changing. So, when BlogHer asked some bloggers if we wanted to participate in a HomeGoods "Holiday Gifts Under $25" program, I jumped to the opportunity!

As soon as my $25 gift card arrived I drove over to my closest HomeGoods store, located in the Rockville Center Shopping Center,150 N Village Ave, Rockville Center, New York.

It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, so even though I arrived bright and early, shoppers had already taken up most of the parking places in the shopping center!

I just love this store! As soon as I entered the interior lobby with my shopping cart I was greeted with this view of some large novel items for sale, and I could already feel my adrenaline pumping in shopping anticipation.  I have found some wonderful items at HomeGoods in the past -- from picture frames, a mirror, cookbooks, children's books, dishes and kitchen gadgets, sheets, a tablecloth and a bedspread, packaged holiday food specialties, and toys.  All were from top companies and at very affordable prices. There are always tempting bargains available in HomeGoods that I can't resist, and I never leave the store empty handed.

I also love how the goods for sale are beautifully coordinated and displayed!  Just look at this delightful grouping of red holiday items available in my HomeGoods store this past weekend in the photo above and the green items in the photo below. There are thousands of wonderful gift items available in HomeGoods for the holidays for under $25. Just look at all the ideas they show on their web page, or you can order gift card at this link.  Not sure if there is a HomeGoods located in your area? Check the store locate link on their homepage.

As you can see the store was filled with a wonderful assortment of holiday dishes, decorative items and gift foods.  There are many beautiful and  thoughtful gift Items you can buy a friend, neighbor or teacher for the holidays or other occasions.

There are also isles and isles of year round goods and decorative accessories in HomeGoods, such as this wonderful collection of unique folk pottery made in Poland.

Just look how well stocked the children's toy section was!

This was the section of the store where I knew I'd find the gifts I wanted to buy with my gift card.

There were so many wonderful choices of quality toys, puzzles, games and children's room decorative items in HomeGoods just in time for Christmas shopping!

My son and  daughter-in-law like durable toys for my young grandson that challenge him to use his imagination and that are educational, age appropriate and made from safe materials. With my $25 HomeGoods gift card I was able to purchase the following two wonderful toys for Christmas for my grandson:

I bought the Melissa and Doug "Cutting Food Set"  for $14.99  Which contains eight pieces of wooden food, a cutting board and a wooden knife. The food makes a fun "CRUNCH" sound when sliced. My grandson can learn the concepts of whole, halves and quarters when cutting the food, plus pretend he is cooking along side his Mommy in the kitchen, as he like to do.

I was also able to purchase this Melissa and Doug "Take Along Tool Kit" for $9.99 that contains twenty-four, wooden pieces including tools, nails, screws, nuts and bolts. All little boys love to build and this will help my grandson develop manual dexterity as he hammers pegs into the holes and  twists on bolts to screws. 

I have to admit I found so many wonderful toy bargains in HomeGoods that I bought a few more to have on hand for future gift occasions, or for my grandson to play with at our house when he visits us.Thank you Blogher and HomeGoods for helping me with my Christmas shopping this year!

Do you have children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, that you would like to buy holiday toys for or perhaps you need a gift for the "MarineToys for Tots Foundation" program? Try shopping HomeGoods for a wonderful selection of affordable quality toys and gift selections for your entire family!

Would you like a chance to win a $100 HomeGoods gift card or one of 20 $25 HomeGoods gift cards?  See the Bloghers Exclusive Offers page for details, and to see what other bloggers were able to purchase with their $25 gift card!  Good luck!

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Friday, November 26, 2010

The 84th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

My husband and I went to the "crossroads of the world', Time Square in Manhattan, on Thursday to watch the 84th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!  We arrived around 7 AM, and already the streets were lined with people trying to find a good spot to watch the parade that would begin at 9 AM.  It would begin at 77th Street and Central Park West, and culminate at Macy's at Herald Square on 34th Street and 7 th Avenue.  A short film clip about the parade's cherished tradition can be seen at this link. (All photos will enlarge when clicked on once and then again when they open on a new page)

It was definitely an exciting moment for us when the beginning of the parade appeared where we were standing at around 9:30 AM.  We had not been to the parade in many years as usually I am at home cooking the holiday meal. We celebrated our Thanksgiving dinner earlier on Saturday this year, as our daughter was traveling to spend the holiday with her brother and his family in Colorado.

The Peanuts cartoon character Snoopy was the first balloon to pass by and big cheers rose up from the crowd for him. It's such a thrill to see these giant balloons pass overhead!

You can see the joy on the face of this four year old boy and his dad as they watched the parade go by! I can't wait till my grandsons will be old enough to see the parade with us someday in the future.

There were many marching bands and performance groups from all around the country marching in the parade. The complete parade line up list for 2010 can be seen at this link.

Thanksgiving and the autumn season were well represented.

The current Sesame Street cast was on this float.

It was followed by a new balloon for 2010 --The Wimpy Kid, based on the books "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" by Jeff Kinney

There were lots and lots of pink in the parade so I immediately thought of Beverly's blog How Sweet The Sound, Pink Saturday event!

More pink!

Green was well represented as Kermit the Frog balloon passed by.

A vintage 1902 Big Apple horse and carriage

As you can see it takes quite a few handlers to control the strings to the balloons. If there are high winds the decision may be made not to fly the balloons at all for safety sake.  Luckily the weather on the day of this year's parade was in the forties, overcast but without wind.

SpongeBob seemed to be a big favorite with the children in the crowd.

There were lots of patriotic floats and balloons

A steamboat and it's captain...

...the ever popular Mickey Mouse passed by.

The USA Pizza Team!  They were a team composed of pizzaiolos from around the nation whose skills range from baking to dough stretching to individual and group dough acrobatics.

Horton balloon from the Dr. Seuss children's book "Horton Hears a Who!"

Miss USA, Rima Fakih, wearing the white coat, was on this float.

Ahoy, pirates on the horizon!

The Oneida Indian Nation was represented by this float.

There were many, many floats in the parade as you can see by this photo mosaic!

There are an estimated 8,000 people that participate in the parade...  marchers, band members, balloon handlers, celebrities on the floats, clowns, etc. The parade is watched by crowds of 2-3.5 million spectators, and another 50 million watch the parade on TV.

There were many wonderful balloons!

The 60 dancing penguins was a big crowd favorite as they were very exuberant and fun to watch! Not all the passing performance groups do anything but march by along the route until they reach the VIP grandstands at Herald Square, where they put on the performance that you see on TV.  The Rockettes do not even march in the parade! So it's fun when a group does stop and do something for the crowds along the way like the penguins did.

This group of dancing cowboys and girls also put on a little acrobatic performance!

As you can see by the balloons in this mosaic the star of the parade was approaching! The girl balloon in the upper left corner is Virginia O' Hanlon with the letter she wrote to the New York Sun Newspaper's editor in 1897 asking if there really is a Santa Claus. You can read his famous and endearing answer here.

Yes! The big moment has arrived!

It's Santa Claus on his sled pulled by eight reindeers!

Santa said "Ho Ho Ho! "

Merry Christmas to all!

And to all a good night!

As the last balloons continued down 7th Avenue the parade was over and very quickly everyone went on their way to continue celebrating Thanksgiving 2010.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

I am adding this post to Mary at The Little Red House blog/s Mosaic Monday! Thanks Mary!  Please visit Mary's blog today to see links to her photo mosaic and links to all the blogs participating in her event today.

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