Say Cheese!

Three Months of American Cheese

The holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean the celebrations have to be as well. In the spirit of continuous celebrations, today we’re talking cheese. That’s right, a full-blown investigation into how to create the perfect cheese plate for your next get-together:

As a general rule of thumb, plan to have an ounce or two of each type of cheese per person. Three to five different types of cheese should make an ample plate that allows each person to sample a nice variety. You may want to invest in some specialized cheese knives to make cutting and serving easy – the Dubost Cheese Knife Set provides a classic trio of cheese servers for a reasonable price.

Variety is the spice of life – especially when it comes to cheese! Here are a few cheese combinations you can try:

  • Cheeses made from different milk types: cow, goat and sheep. Check out food writer Janet Fletcher’s CheeseLibrary for examples of each.
  • Cheeses from different countries, such as France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
  • Cheeses that represent various regions of the U.S., for example Wisconsin Cheddar, Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Humboldt Fog.
  • Cheeses of different textures: soft and creamy cheeses like Brie and Camemert, or hard and dry cheeses like Manchego and Pecorino Romano.

A well-planned cheese plate speaks for itself, so beyond selecting your cheeses and placing them on a simple cheese board, you don’t have to do much more in the way of presentation.

Wüsthof Gourmet Wine and Cheese Set

If you are not yet the proud owner of a cheese board, check out the Wüsthof Gourmet Wine and Cheese Set from Sur La Table. The set includes a bamboo board, cheese plane to create perfectly thin slices of cheese, cheese knife for slicing, and corkscrew for the all-important wine pairing. Williams Sonoma also sells a Slate Cheese Serving Board, complete with a soapstone pencil, which allows you to label each cheese for inquisitive guests. If you’re looking for a “higher-end” cheese board, take a look at the handsome Vintage French Cheese Board.

Vintage French Cheese Board

In terms of cheese placement, Joanna Goddard recommends placing your cheeses “in ‘clock order’—12 o’clock being the mildest and 11 o’clock being the strongest.’

The obvious pairing is wine, but beer has become an increasingly popular pairing beverage as well. Check out these American Cheese Society guides to pairing cheese and wine and pairing cheese and beer.

To accompany (but not overwhelm) the cheese, serve some light crackers or plain bread like a French baguette on the side. More flavorful breads, like sourdough or focaccia, are generally not recommended since they may interfere with the flavor of cheese, but there are some exceptions. For example, walnut bread pairs nicely with chèvre.

Some people also like to serve simple accompaniments like fresh or dried fruits, honey and nuts with their cheese plates.

The Shopilly Team

P.S. Need a gift for a cheese lover? Consider a delicious three-month American Cheese delivery service or DIY Cheese-Making Kit from Williams Sonoma.

Photo credits:,

New Year, New Resolutions

Now that the ball has dropped, bottles of bubbly popped and we’ve entered into the new year, it’s time to put our 2013 resolutions into action. And it’s easier (and more fun) than ever to keep them, thanks to the cool gadgets, gear and other goodies we’ve found—from stylish workout clothes to veggies delivered to your door. Happy 2013!


Lululemon Pace Setter Running Skirt, $58

Lululemon Pace Setter Running Skirt, $58

The best motivation to get your butt to the gym? Investing in workout gear, such as Lululemon’s Pace Setter Running Skirt ($58, enjoy free shipping!) spun of light, moisture-wicking fabric with built-in shorts and an elastic hem so they stay put while jogging on the treadmill.

Gaiam Cardio Burn Yoga DVD, $11.95

On the days you can’t get to the yoga studio, pop in Gaiam’s Cardio Burn Yoga DVD ($11.98, use code 13NEWYEAR for an extra 20% off) with certified instructor Patricia Moreno to get your vinyasa on at home.

Nike+ Fuel Band, $149

Nike+ Fuel Band, $149

Track your workouts with the Nike+ FuelBand ($149 from Nike), which measures everything from the number of steps you take to amount of calories burned. Download the mobile app and wirelessly share your progress with friends, too. (Bonus: it doubles as a cool-looking watch!)


Clarisonic Mia, $119 at Sephora

Clarisonic Mia, $119 

Just a few small tweaks in your daily routine can make you look (and feel) more pulled-together. Get dewy, fresh-from-a-facial looking skin everyday with the Clarisonic Mia ($119 at Sephora, score free shipping) which helps minimize pores and cleanses so thoroughly, moisturizers and serums absorb more effectively. (We got one from Santa and our skin has never looked better!).

Deborah Lippmann Get Nailed Manicure Set, $48

Deborah Lippmann Get Nailed Manicure Set, $49

Clean, perfectly polished nails go a very long way. Treat yourself to a weekly mani-pedi at home with Deborah Lippmann’s Get Nailed manicure set ($49 at Nordstrom, get free shipping) complete with base coat, top, polish remover and two glossy lacquers.

Kenneth Jay Lane earrings, $56

Kenneth Jay Lane earrings, $56

Always keep a pair of glittery earrings in your purse to add an instant dose of glamour on the go. Jeweled button styles, such as this pair by Kenneth Jay Lane ($56 with 30% off at Last Call by Neiman Marcus) lend just-right sparkle to everything from desk-to-dinner getups to your weekend uniform of skinnies and a tee.


Chef's Table, $89.95

Chef’s Garden Seasonal Vegetable & Herb Box, $89.95

No time to hit the farmer’s market? Get a bounty of farm-fresh veggies delivered to your doorstep with Chef’s Garden Seasonal Vegetable and Herb box ($89.95 per order, available at Gilt Taste), packed with peak-of-season produce, such as squash blossoms and baby cauliflower.

Breville Juicer, $149

Breville Juice Fountain Plus, $149.95

Save yourself $10 a day on green juice with Breville’s Juice Fountain Plus (on sale for $149.95 at Williams-Sonoma), considered the Bentley of at-home juicers for its powerful, 850-watt motor and easy-to-clean micromesh filter.

The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Ella, $

The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Ella, $15

Dust off your pots and pans and get cooking with Maria Ella’s delicious new cookbook, The Modern Vegetarian ($15.30 on, packed with 120 mouthwatering meatless recipes, such as watermelon panzanella and lemongrass & sweet corn soup.


Kate Spade New York 2013 Desk Agenda, $38

Kate Spade New York 2013 Desk Agenda, $38

Stay on top of meetings, dinner dates and social soirees with Kate Spade New York’s 2013 daily agenda notebook ($38, take an extra 25% off sale items with code 25SALE). It also comes with extra sheets for jotting birthdays, restaurants and important addresses.

Container Store Shoe Boxes, $1.89 each

Container Store Shoe Boxes, $1.89 each

If your bathroom cabinets overflow with a messy mix of toiletries, here’s how to get organized: dump everything onto the floor and divide into categories (nail polishes, travel sizes, eye makeup, etc). Stow in the Container Store’s stackable plastic shoe boxes ($1.89 each), tuck away underneath the sink or linen closet and—voila!

Palm Beach Chic's Elle Jewelry Box, $79

Palm Beach Chic’s Elle Jewelry Box, $79

Avoid making a jumbled mess of your jewelry using Palm Beach Chic’s Elle lacquer jewelry box ($79 at One King’s Lane), complete with special compartments to keep necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings in pristine condition.



Cheers, Prost, Saúde!

Ah, the holidays. Never is there a time of year with more to toast to: family, friends, gifts, never-ending holiday treats and the promise of a fresh start with the coming of a new year.

As you gear up to celebrate Christmas tomorrow and the New Year in just another week, we’ve compiled a mini guide on “toasting etiquette.” Read on to learn how to properly cheer in the holidays:

Use Proper Stemware

While we think (and we’re betting most people will agree) that sparkling wine is tasty whether served in a glass, mug or jar, the proper way to serve it is in a slender, flute-shaped glass. Schott Zwiesel Pure Champagne Flutes will do the job; for a less traditional look, the flared Zwiesel 1872 Enoteca Champagne Toasting Glass is a fun choice. Both are available at Sur La Table.

White wine should be served in a U-shaped wine glass like the Riedel Vinum Chardonnay Glass. An alternative is the DuraClear Osteria Stemless White Wineglass, which is great for butterfingers – it won’t crack, shatter, break, cloud or discolor. Both are available at Williams-Sonoma.

Red wine has more complex aromas and flavors than white wine, so it should be served in a glass with a larger surface area so that the wine can come into contact with more air.  If you’re toasting with red wine, serve it in a round wine glass that has a large opening – try Anthropologie’s Frosted Panes Red Wine Glass or Frosted Panes Tumbler, both of which feature beautiful etched patterns.

Serve Wine at the Correct Temperature
Most people know better than to put ice in their white wine (at least in public), but how much do you actually know about the temperatures at which different types of wine should be served?

Sparkling wine should be served well chilled. Put a bottle in the fridge 3 hours prior to serving, or a minimum of 30 minutes in ice water, if you’re running short on time.

White wines should also be served chilled, but not to the degree of sparkling wines. As a rule of thumb, refreshing white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio should be chilled to 35 or 40 degrees before serving, while richer white wines like Chardonnay should be chilled slightly less, to about 55 degrees, before serving.

Lastly, red wines should be served at a cool 65 degrees. If you keep your reds in a cool, dry environment like a cellar or basement, you may be able to serve them immediately. If not, you can chill them in the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving.

Don’t Overfill Glasses
…at least not during the first round. This will help prevent spillage as everyone clinks glasses and, as a bonus, you’ll look like a true wine expert. Joanna Goddard, who blogs over at A Cup of Jo, wrote a great wine etiquette post (complete with illustrations!) to help clarify the do’s and don’ts of drinking wine. She writes that red wine glasses should be filled 1/3 full, white wine glasses ½ full, and sparkling wine glasses ¾ full.

Now that we’ve filled your mind with wine knowledge, we’re going to give you one last piece of contradictory advice – if all else fails, throw all etiquette out the window and just enjoy toasting with your loved ones this holiday. We promise we won’t judge.

Happy Holidays,
The Shopilly Team

Photo credits:,,

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

If you were one of the brave souls who headed out in the wee hours of Black Friday (or even shortly after Thanksgiving dinner) to take advantage of the sales, our hats are off to you. If you chose to sleep in or just prefer shopping from the comfort of your couch, it’s not too late to catch up now – it’s Cyber Monday, after all!

As you navigate all of the great deals for your holiday gift shopping, take a look at this gift guide we’ve compiled for the special people in your life:

The Clothing Maven
Open anyone’s closet, and you’ll encounter a world of colors, patterns, fabrics and fashions. Rather than taking a (risky) stab at pinpointing a person’s style preferences, give him or her some peace of mind in the form of closet organization. The Container Store offers a plethora of closet organizers – the Milano 6-Compartment Hanging Sweater Bag keeps those pesky shoulder bumps caused by hangers away. Target sells a convenient Tie and Belt Hanger that keeps accessories organized, and for the jetsetters in your life, a GarmenTote Garment Bag (available via Bed Bath & Beyond) keeps dresses and suits wrinkle-free.

The Tech Lover
Thank your go-to tech expert for all of the times he or she saved your computer/phone/life with a cool accessory for his or her latest gadget. Amazon carries Speck’s line of eye-catching, protective and budget-friendly iPhone cases. A pair of Klipsch Noise-Cancelling Headphones from Brookstone is sure to make any audiophile’s ears happy, and Nike’s Jordan Gadget Gloves make it easy for your tech lover to fiddle with a touchscreen without risking frozen fingers.

The Foodie
‘Tis the season for good food, and lots of it. Treat your beloved gourmand to some seasonal delicacies. Williams-Sonoma makes a fantastic Peppermint Bark, and its Italian Food Lovers Gift Set makes throwing together a good pasta dinner easy as 1-2-3.  Cheese enthusiasts will appreciate one of Sur La Table’s many cheese samplers, and makes it easy to ship a good bottle or two to any holiday table.

The Athlete
Nothing gets in the way of this person’s fitness goals – neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor overconsumption of holiday treats. Guarantee that your athlete doesn’t get caught in the elements unprepared. A proper baselayer is key for retaining body heat, and Patagonia has a good selection of baselayers for women and men. For those below-zero days when leaving the house seems like a workout in and of itself, your athlete can still get a good workout in with a video like Jillian Michaels: Ripped in 30 DVD, available from Gaiam. Lastly, the REI Outdoor School offers a wide selection of programs and classes for budding and experienced climbers, cyclers, kayakers and more.

The Artist
When displaying your artist’s work on the refrigerator just doesn’t cut it any more, show your appreciation with the gift of framing.’s Photos [to] Art program allows you to upload a photo and customize it into a work of art, such as a poster calendar, canvas print or mounted photograph. For the crafty, Papyrus does custom printing, so your artist can design and print his or her own stationary and cards. Lastly, Z Gallerie has a wide selection of art, and if you purchase a piece and enter the promo code GIVE20 today, you’ll receive 20% off your purchase.

Happy Shopping!

P.S. Is holiday shopping already causing your wallet grief? Here’s your chance to win $700 from Shopilly – invite your friends to join Shopilly by December 11th, and you’ll receive 5 entries into the holiday giveaway per invitee! Details here.

Photo credits:,,,,

T is for Thanksgiving and Table Setting

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this week, chances are by now you’ve finalized the menu and perhaps even started prepping some of the dishes. Between the turkey roasting, potato mashing and pie making, you might not have much time to dedicate to table settings. But don’t neglect the tabletop – it’ll be one of the first things your guests notice when they sit down for dinner.

If you’ve had your nose nestled too deep in recipes to think about decorating your Thanksgiving table, fear not. We’ve compiled a little list to help you assemble a beautiful table setting before the first guest hits the doorbell:

Happy Thanksgiving from the Shopilly team!

Photo credits:,,

Essentials for Hosting an Election Night Watch Party

Once every four years, politics is granted the same amount of excitement as a Super Bowl – and for good reason, as presidential candidates duke it out in a winner-takes-all contest on the national stage.

Tomorrow night, the world will be watching as the results come pouring in for the 2012 presidential election. With early polls showing that this election could go to either party, you won’t want to miss out on all of the action. Gather your good friends and these essentials for an election night watch party:

  • Festive decorations: No watch party is complete without decorations like tissue patriotic bunting or mini American flags.
  • State result tracker: Don’t lose track of the voting results – note them on a whiteboard or mark them on a map in real-time.
  • Patriotic-themed food: Celebrate American democracy with some red, white and blue treats. Serve them on colored plates, like these Sur La Table Terracotta Solid Tapas Plates, and check out this PBS feature for patriotic food ideas.
  • Drinks: Whip up some festive cocktails like red cosmos and blue martinis to accompany your patriotic-themed food. And to help your guests party into the wee hours of the morning, good coffee is a necessity – especially if this election is as close as predicted. Bouchon Bakery House Blend Coffee is a good pick (available via Williams Sonoma).
  • Support apparel: Wear your support with pride – assuming that all of the guests at your party have the same views. You wouldn’t want your party to turn into (yet another) heated debate, after all! has plenty of options for Obama supporters, Romney supporters…and everyone in between.

Photo credits:,