Tag Archives: World Market

Girl Scout Cookies and Wine?

Table setting for Girl Scout cookies and wine pairing

It’s Girl Scout cookie time!  This is the time of year when all your New Year’s resolutions about losing weight take a slight break when that cute little Girl Scout in your neighborhood asks you to buy cookies!  Seriously, how can you say no to a young girl learning about marketing, money management, people skills and entrepreneurship by selling these cookies?  They are SO good and everyone has their one favorite…or two…or THREE!!!

Girl Scout cookie bites with a madeira wine

Two years ago a friend posted a Girl Scout cookie and wine pairing photo on my Facebook wall.  I was getting more and more into wine and food pairings and I had a good laugh at the photo.  Girl Scout cookies and wine?  I wasn’t so sure. But the thought was tucked away in my mind and this year I decided it would be fun to try it out.  First I did a little online research.  Sure enough, most of the information I found was based on the photo my friend had shared with suggestions to pair Samoas (chocolate and coconut cookies) with Rioja and Trefoils (butter cookies) with champagne.  Sounded simple enough.  Then one afternoon I was at a food and wine event at Perry’s Steakhouse and asked their corporate sommelier, Susi Zivanovich what she would suggest.  She said to go with dessert wines like port, madeira and something I had never tried before…sauternes.  Next, I  found an article in Food & Wine magazine pretty much debunking all the pairings I had originally come across.  They also agreed with Suzi about the dessert wines.  And I figured since it was Food & Wine magazine, they should know!

So, I set about getting a Girl Scout Cookie and dessert wine pairing pulled together with a few friends.  I headed to Trader Joes, World Market, Publix and Vintage Wines to gather all the suggested wines in the Food and Wine article.  These are the wines I ended up with:

  • Emma Reichart Dry Riesling – $4.99 @ Trader Joes
  • Moscato d’Asti Villa Alena – $8.99 @ Trader Joes
  • Schloss Biebrich Rose Sekt (Sparkling Wine) – $6.99 Trader Joes (Okay…I did add a sparkling wine because I was curious even though it wasn’t suggested. More on that in a bit.)
  • Chateau Pleytegeat Sauternes – $11.50 on sale (Regular price $15) @ World Market
  • Blandy’s Madeira – $20.99 @ Vintage Wine Shop
  • Taylor Tawny Port – $8.49 @ Publix

For several days, I mulled over how to set everything up.  I saw a few photos of pairings online where chalk boards were used and it looked nice enough but with six wines and seven cookies, I thought it might get a little crowded looking on the table.  Plus, I wanted to add the suggested cookie pairings next to each wine and needed a little more room to write.  I found a roll of butcher paper in my hall closet and it was just enough to cover my dining room table.  The wines were lined up from light to dark on the left and the cookies were lined up next to their main suggested pairing (as much as possible), on the right.  Then I grabbed a large sharpie and got to work labeling everything!  The pairings looked like this:

  • Riesling with Toffee-tastic (gluten-free buttery with sweet crunchy toffee bits) and Savannah Smiles (zesty lemon wedge dusted with powdered sugar)
  • Moscato with Trefoils (shortbread) and S’mores (graham sandwich with creamy chocolate and marshmallow filling)
  • Sparkling Rose with Savannah Smiles (powdered sugar lemon)
  • Sauternes with S’mores and Samoas (crisp cookie coated in caramel, sprinkled w/toasted coconut and striped with dark chocolate)
  • Madeira with Do-Si-Dos (crunchy oatmeal sandwich cookie with peanut butter filling) and Tagalongs (crispy cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with chocolate coating)
  • Tawny Port with S’mores, Tagalongs, Samoas and Do-Si-Dos

Usually at wine pairings you get a tally sheet to keep up with what you liked best and any other notes you want to make, but I decided to go a different route with this.  Having a paper and pen to add to a wine glass and plate of cookies seemed too much to handle.  As my guests tried a cookie and wine, I asked them to put a check mark beside the ones they thought paired the best.  By the end of the tasting we had a good idea which ones paired best.  For our tastes, this is what everyone liked the best:

  • Riesling – Savannah Smiles were the overwhelming favorite of all cookies and wines.  The Dry Riesling and lemon cookies pairing was so good everyone went back for more!
  • Moscato – There was a tie between Trefoils and S’mores and personally I liked both of these cookies with the Moscato.  I’m not a big Moscato fan so this surprised me!
  • Sparkling Rose – only one person really liked pairing this wine with the Savannah Smiles which proved the Food & Wine article was right about champagne.  On the other hand, everyone enjoyed drinking the champagne when the tasting was over.
  • Sauternes – Hands down the Samoas won with this suggested pairing.  Was it the coconut or the chocolate?  For me I think it was the coconut and the fact that this was a really sweet wine so I think the coconut balanced it out.
  • Madeira – I paired this with both types of peanut butter cookies and everyone preferred the chocolate covered Tagalongs with the Madeira.  So…this lead me to believe any of the chocolate cookies would work.  S’mores for me was a close second even though I didn’t officially pair this one with the Madeira.
  • Tawny Port – This is the wine that had the most suggested pairings, four total.  Again, the Tagalongs (with chocolate) were a hit and tied with the S’mores (also with chocolate).
  • EXTRA WINE PAIRING – I have to add that one of my guests brought a white blend wine, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier, to try with the peanut butter cookies. She had gone to Vintage Wine Shoppe and they suggested this pairing.  FYI – this was the place where I bought the Madeira wine.  We added it to the table and both cookies paired really well with this wine!

Last but not least…the thin mints…these are probably one of the most popular Girl Scout cookies but the thought of having wine with a thin mint didn’t seem like a good idea to me.  The mint flavor was sure to overtake anything that we tried.  In fact, I don’t think I saw anyone try the thin mints at my pairing.  I know, I didn’t try to pair them, and I believe the Food & Wine article suggestion was to put these cookies next to the coffee!  Now THAT’S the perfect pairing!

I’m thinking about making this an annual event at my house.  Several friends are already saying they’d love to be included and I love planning a good party!  Meanwhile, if you are interested in trying out any of these pairings, you need to go ahead and get your cookies during the month of March!  In the Birmingham area, you can reach out to Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama and click on the cookie link for further information.  Or you can click on the “Find Cookies” button and enter your zip code to find out where booth sales are taking place.  And if you are sticking with your losing weight resolution, remember that you can freeze the cookies until you are ready to give these pairings a try.

A personal note about Girl Scouts…I was a Girl Scout when I lived in Puerto Rico.  My mother was my Brownie leader and I went all the way up to one year as a Cadette until we moved to Chicago.  Both of my daughters were in Girl Scouts and while I helped out a lot with my older daughter’s troop, I was my younger daughter’s troop leader from 1st through 12th grade.  I served as Hoover Valley Service Area Manager for five years and also on the board of Cahaba Girl Scouts (now Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama).  Being a Girl Scout is something I’m very proud of and it taught me so many life lessons.  I remember selling cookies door-to-door in my neighborhood of Sagrado Corazon in Puerto Rico and helping my daughters do the same where we live in Hoover.  Girl Scout cookies are all the more sweet because of my long time affiliation with this wonderful organization.  They truly do build girls with courage, confidence and character.  Now…go buy some Girl Scout cookies!



And the Day of the Dead collection continues to grow…

Cynthia Rowley placements I found at TJ Maxx this year!

Collecting Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos items has become a year-round thing for me.  It used to be that I would begin seeing things in stores around September but these days, you can find things all the time!  Granted, a lot of the items I find in local stores like Target are rather whimsical and mass-produced.  They still blend nicely with my more unique pieces and give me ideas for creating my annual Day of the Dead altar at home.

DOD Sugar Skull yoga pants! Aren’t these cool?!

In August, I was in TJ Maxx with my daughter when I spotted these cute pumpkin DOD placemats by Cynthia Rowley!  There was also a tablecloth, but I decided to just get the placemats.  Of course, when you are at TJ Maxx, you have to look through the clothes section and I was thrilled to find these sugar skull yoga pants!  I’m sure I’m going to turn a few heads when I wear them at my local YMCA later this month!

I always go to World Market to see what their new collection looks like.  I happened to hit it right when they were putting all their items out on display last month.  I was drawn to this sugar skull bowl because of the subtle colors.  Plus they had a pillow with the same sugar skulls and colors on it!  I had a $40 gift card which helped me pay for these two items.  Oh, and I also found this incredibly colorful porcelain cup because…why not?!

On to Target…you know they always have a DOD collection and it seems to have gotten bigger over the years!   This year, I added a sugar skull banner, a trio of Day of the Dead birds, two sugar skull “dolls” and a sugar skull candle holder!  They also have some cutesy items in their Dollar Spot section and I decided to buy two of the fabric sugar skull buckets.  I figured they would be good to use for candy for Halloween.  It’s interesting how both World Market and Target seem to have coordinated their color scheme this year for their collections.  I’m loving the blues, oranges and pinks in these new items and they’ve made for a very coordinate kitchen table this year!

These little sugar skull pup salt and pepper shakers remind me of my pup, Lucy! These are from Von Maur.

Von Maur Department Store had these cute sugar skull dog salt and pepper shakers!  They reminded me of my pup, Lucy so of course I had to buy them!  This was an unexpected place to find DOD items!

Vintage style designs on these Day of the Dead placemats I found at the Albuquerque airport!

This year, we had my Zuniga family reunion in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I always look forward to finding new DOD items when I’m in NM or out west.  Amazingly, I always find the best items at the Albuquerque airport!  These placemats are beautiful with their traditional depictions including La Catrina, La Virgen de Guadalupe and dancing sugar skulls.  I bought 6 total – two of each and plan to use them on my dining room table when I create my altars this year.

In addition, at our reunion I snagged these beautiful Catrina candle sticks!  I plan to use them this month and next around the house.  They are so colorful!  And I also came home with a purple and yellow sugar skull very large cup that my cousin Boogie made!  Could this BE any more perfect for this time of year???  Or any time, really…

Sugar skull puppy toys – one for Lucy and one for my grandpup, Lucia! These are from Pet Smart.

Finally…I was in Pet Smart to pick up some doggie treats for my pup, Lucy when I spotted these DOD puppy toys!  I picked up one for Lucy and one for my grandpup, Lucia!  They squeak which should make for an interesting game of fetch and retrieve!

I’m sure there will be more to add as we get closer to Day of the Dead.  I really can’t help myself when I see these items…I think I’m going to have to add another storage container or two this year to accommodate everything!

Day of the Dead Décor – It’s Everywhere!

img_1320-1Every fall I look forward to discovering new Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos items to add to my growing collection.  This year it seems stores had their items out even earlier than usual.

The first place I always hit is World Market.  Usually, they have quite a huge spread of items but this year the collection wasn’t as large.  Mind you, this is always my “go-to” place for DOD items so in fairness, it could be that I’ve collected most of their items already!  At any rate, over the course of 3 visits, I picked up some cute things including a Mariachi skeleton pillow, sugar skull measuring cups, sugar skull measuring spoons, 2 sugar skull nutcrackers and two ornaments – one sugar skull and one hot sauce bottle!  I haven’t checked other stores in my area to see if they have a more robust collection in their stores…there is still time and I may do that, but I really do love the things I’ve picked up so far.


Sugar skull measuring spoons and measuring “skulls” from World Market.


Mariachi pillow from World Market! So cute!


img_1317 img_1316 img_1315Target is another place to pick up cute DOD items.  This year, their selection was also a little limited.  Again, I think I bought everything they had last year, including a door wreath which will go up on my front door the last weekend in October.  I bought a sugar skull vinyl tablecloth along with a DOD banner and a sugar skull dog statue.  The tablecloth reminds me of the beautiful colorful Mexican vinyl tablecloths that my cousins always use in their decorating.  On another trip, I found a sugar skull cup and a kit to make sugar skull pumpkins.  I bought two pumpkins over the weekend for Halloween decorating so I’ll convert those using the kits this weekend.







img_1313 img_1312Finally, last week I was in Michaels and saw an adorable DOD door wreath.  I considered buying it as I walked through the store and then I turned down an aisle and found an entire display of DOD items!  It would have been easy to go nuts and add everything to my cart but I took a deep breath and selected just a few things – a DOD “coffin”, 6 small sugar skull plates and a Catrina statue – an iconic DOD item that is seen every year at the local DOD Festival in downtown Birmingham!

Honestly…it seems as though you can find DOD and Sugar Skull items all over the place these days.  I always look forward to pulling out all my stored items as I prepare to make my annual altars and decorate my house.  I think this year I’ll need to add another storage container for all my new items!

Do you have any favorite DOD items?  If so, please share them with me.  I would love to see them and know what you do to celebrate Day of the Dead!

Finding a Travel Journal


In love with my new travel journal! Isn’t it cool!

For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to notebooks and journals.  When I go into a bookstore or any specialty store, I always find myself in the aisle with the journals and notebooks, thumbing through the various designs and thinking of ways I can use each particular one.  Then I shake myself out of that dreamy state and realize I have more than enough journals and notebooks at home and I need to use those first!

What I didn’t have was a good travel journal…at least until now!  My husband and I are taking a 30th anniversary trip in August and I wanted something special to take with me and record our trip.  Sure, I could have used something I already have but I was browsing in that aisle again – in Target this time – and I landed on the perfect one.

IMG_7373It’s funny how journaling and decorating journals has become such a big industry these days.  The options are endless!  Back in the early 1980’s, I would eagerly await the new Hallmark calendar and get it ready for the year – adding birthdays, appointments and other special events.  Then I would use the daily page to journal about my day and feelings, and then add things like ticket stubs, photos, receipts, invitations and other items that I wanted to remember.  By the end of the year, the calendar would be 3 times its original size from all the things I was saving!  The book pictured on the left is the one I diligently kept the year before I got married so when I found it in the attic recently and opened it up – so many memories flooded back to me.  Reading a few pages immediately took me back to that particular time and how I was feeling.  It’s amazing the power of your own voice…

Finding these old journals has made me all the more excited about keeping a travel journal.  I have to say, the cover of the journal got my attention first.  It’s full of passport type stamps.  It’s also made of a burlap type fabric.  As I opened it, I noticed there were stickers to use and pockets to store things.  Another cool feature is that it contains several pull out pages that show the map of the world.  I can definitely see myself marking that map with some of the stickers included as I check places to go off my bucket list.  There is also space for photos which is always a hard one for me since I take so many!  I generally like to pick out a few postcards when we travel and tuck those away “with” my photos.


One of the fold out maps in my new travel journal!

In addition to the journal, I found the coolest pack of sticky notes at World Market a few weeks ago.  I actually bought this before I found the travel journal but they go together perfectly!  They’re called Bon Voyage sticky notes and you know why they got my attention, right?  The map of the world on the cover, of course!  The love of maps seems to be a Zuniga gene thing – at least that’s what my sister Kanista seems to think.  I think she may be right!


Travel sticky notes from World Market – nice companion piece for my travel journal.

As far as journaling and photographing our trip…I’m ready for that!  When it comes to packing clothes…not so much…but I still have some time to get that underway.

NOTE:  I’ll post about the trip in September so stay tuned!

More Day of the Dead Purchases

Sugar skull items found at Target this year...

Sugar skull items found at Target this year…

Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead is about 3 weeks away and I’ve ramped up the search for cool and colorful items!

I can always count on World Market to have a great collection of sugar skull items.  In fact, they call it the Los Muertos (The Dead) Collection.  After several years of picking through their collection, I think I have most everything I really want.  But when I went by the store a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find orange and black sugar skull mugs and small plates!  I’m thinking these will be great this month for weekend coffee and a light bite of breakfast.

Sugar skull coffee mugs and small plates from World Market this year!

Sugar skull coffee mugs and small plates from World Market this year!

Target has started carrying a larger collection of Day of the Dead items which thrills me!  Of course with Target you can take your chances and wait for things to on sale OR you can go ahead and pay full price – which is really not terribly high – and get it when you see it.  I chose the later…plus, I had about $40 in Target gift cards I had been holding on to so…

Sugar Skull wreath from Target.

Sugar Skull wreath from Target.

I really do love the sugar skull wreath with the colorful florals the best.  That was my first purchase and it goes on my front door this weekend.  They had some wooden sugar skulls on stands and some lanterns but those didn’t interest me as much.  Then a few weeks later I ran in to Target to pick up a few things for supper.  Naturally, I wandered over by the Halloween items and found individual hanging male and female sugar skulls!  LOVE the top hat on the male!  Had to have!

Mr. and Mrs. Sugar Skull! Found at Target this year.

Mr. and Mrs. Sugar Skull! Found at Target this year.

The $1-$3 dollar bins at Target are always a treasure trove.  They have great seasonal items and I used to love getting the little Christmas buckets to use in class when I taught 4th grade Sunday School.  I always walk through and without fail, find something I can use.  Most recently, I found these sugar skull socks.  I know what I’ll be wearing to the local Birmingham Day of the Dead festival next month!!!  I think they glow in the dark too!

I'll be wearing these Target glow in the dark Sugar Skull socks to our local Day of the Dead festival this year!

I’ll be wearing these Target glow in the dark Sugar Skull socks to our local Day of the Dead festival this year!

Walgreens surprised me while in Austin, Texas two weeks ago.  I found this cute sugar skull bobble head.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised in Texas…so when I got back to Birmingham I went to the Hoover store and found a few things – just not the bobble head.  The one item I decided to add to my collection was the beverage holder or Koozie!

Walgreens Sugar Skull bobble head...

Walgreens Sugar Skull bobble head…

I love the fact that several people I know send me texts or emails when they see Day of the Dead items at stores.  I always check them out to see if it’s something I can’t live without.  I’m sure there are plenty more items out there that are just waiting for a home.  Three more weeks to find them!!!

Walgreens sugar skull koozie/can holder found at Walgreens in Birmingham.

Walgreens sugar skull koozie/can holder found at Walgreens in Birmingham.

My Mexican Christmas Tree


Two of my Mexican tin ornaments…

I have always loved Mexican tin ornaments…so shiny and colorful!  I began collecting them many years ago but never really had a way to display them.  Our family Christmas tree has always been decorated only with Hallmark ornaments.  And I’ve been collecting Hallmark ornaments  since they first came out in 1973 – but that’s a story for another post…

I know it was a few years after we moved into our house in Hoover, AL, that I decided to have a Mexican tree in my family room.  It started slowly…we had a small tree we used in our apartment while we were waiting for our house to be built.  It was the perfect size for our family room.  So I put together and began decorating.  I used poinsettia stems and the tin ornaments the first year.  And I added chili pepper lights in green and red too – for a little zing!  I remember the first year only having a few strings of chili pepper lights.  A friend of mine who loves day after Christmas shopping, found a few more sets one year and called me to see if I wanted any.  I said “YES!” and said picked them up for me.   I used those lights until just two years ago when so many had gone out I decided to just use multi-colored lights because I couldn’t find chili pepper lights anywhere in town.


The purple sugar skull ornament that I found recently at Myers Plants and Pottery in Pelham, AL

Every year, I try to add something new to the tree.  Every time I’ve traveled to New Mexico, Colorado and California, I’ve brought back an ornament.  One year I found a few small sombreros and decided to use them as a tree topper.  Worked out better than I thought it would!  Locally, I’ve found ornaments at World Market and Target.  This year, I went by Myers Plants and Pottery in Pelham, AL,  and found two sugar skull ornaments to add to the tree – one in white and the other purple.   Finding these at Myers was a total shock!  Then again, this is the place where I’ve found amazing Talavera pottery pieces too so…



My daughter Emily places poinsettia flowers around the tree before we began decorating with the ornaments.

This year, my daughter Emily helped me with the Mexican tree.  We worked together so seamlessly and had it done in no time.  After I added the multi-colored lights, she quickly began filling in the spaces with poinsettia flowers.  We worked on the ornaments together and each one filled the perfect spot.  I remember when my kids were little and would clump ornaments into one spot.  After we were done, I would “re-distribute” the ornaments around the tree to even things out.  That wasn’t the case today.  Emily knew exactly what looked good and where to place things.  As a final touch, we picked up the tree skirt and together worked it around the base of the tree.  Then we placed the pewter manger under the tree.  On either side of the manger, we placed a Mexican mariachi nutcracker and a Mexican Santa doll.  Next year, we’ll add red pepper lights back to the tree.  My sweet husband found a few boxes while he was out running errands earlier in the day and brought them home for me!

IMG_8207I’m looking at the Mexican tree now as I write this…so peaceful…so beautiful…so colorful…and so Mexican!

Feliz Navidad!







Unpacking the poinsettia flowers, pewter manger and sombrero tree toppers for the Mexican tree.


First step after adding lights is to add the Poinsettia flowers…


Wreath tin ornament on the left that I bought in San Antonio, Texas…sugar skull ornament on the right. I found this one at Target a few years ago.


No Mexican tree would be complete without the Virgen de Guadalupe ornament. In fact…I have several on the tree.


I have several of these ornaments on the tree. I made several of these last year as thank you gifts to my HICA – Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama – board members. The Monarch butterfly is a symbol of immigration.


This white sugar skull ornament came from Myers Plants and pottery in Pelham, AL.


My Mexican Mariachi Santa ornament!


My pewter manger that sits under my Mexican tree every year…