Sunday, May 29, 2011

Taste of Orange Blossom {Sicilian Stuffed Artichoke}

This weekend we switched it up a bit and decided to try the special appetizer. Cue the Sicilian Stuffed Artichoke with Lemon Garlic Butter! I have never eaten an artichoke anything close to this before. My artichoke experiences are limited to the hearts in the big jar at Costco! Boy, have I been missing out! First of all, have you ever seen an artichoke this big???? We chatted with the chef afterwards and he told us it is artichoke season in the Salinas area. Aren't they BEAUTIFUL!? Seriously this is a regular large dinner plate size! Just want that to be camera tricks here. The heart of it was the size of an average whole artichoke! I don't know about you, but I love it when food comes from our region. Makes me feel organic, even if I'm not. :)~

It's cooked and topped with crispy panko crumbs and cheese, and drizzled with lemon garlic butter. The herbs in this sauce are killer! We devoured this baby....and just to prove it....scroll down.

It was a battlefield, and we were the victors! Haha! Delicious!!! I think we'll have to start remembering to try the special appetizers!

We have had {and are having} a couple of crazy weeks wrapping up our first year homeschooling. We have had the busiest schedules, so we were unable to go out to Exeter last week. Which means....I was DYING to tickle my *favorites* fancy! If I want comfort, there is no where else for me but OBJ. It feels like an oasis for us after a long week of juggling kids, school, work, projects {did I mention I'm now an actual party planner and I have months booked in advance!! squeal!}, house, hobbies, etc.

Whenever we go with people, they always ask what my favorite is. There is so much to rave about that it's hard to narrow it down. Sometimes it will depend on my "food mood". I crave the salty crunch of their hot potato chips. My taste buds await to dance for the Cat's Meow {best salad ever by the way!}. I could go on and on, but when it comes down to choosing ONE...I'd have to say the Almond Prawns with Tequila Lime Butter. I pretty much never order shrimp at restaurants because they can so easily be made badly. Seriously there is one other restaurant that I rave over their shrimp and it's hundreds of miles away. The thin sliced almonds mixed in with the crispy breading are AMAZING and the sauce turns them into something to die for {Don't think you can't afford good food! It's $11.99!}! This is actually on the appetizer section of the menu, but they come with a scoop of mashed potatoes in the center, and I add on a dinner salad. You won't regret it!

The special dessert was a Banana Tart topped with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Fudge! Umm, hello! Think a slice of the best banana bread topped with homemade ice cream. I can feel summer arriving just thinking about it.

Orange Blossom Junction strikes me as a restaurant with a mission. A mission to serve food that doesn't come with a vacuum seal and microwave directions. Guess what else...did you know they just had a guitarist that did two world tours with Michael Jackson do a concert AND clinic there yesterday? No? Because you're not on their email list, silly! Go sign up, what are you waiting for? Then you'll always know what's coming up at the Junction! :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Team Gifts!

We are only a FEW days away from wrapping up our first year of homeschooling!! I probably will be lacking in blog posts until next week is over. We are swamped with working in advance to turn in our work. We finish up a few days ahead of the district, but still have to squeeze in the same amount of work, but in fewer days! It will be worth it next Friday when we are done and the rest of town still has till the following Wednesday, but it's QUITE crazy right now! We've been hard at work all morning but the girls are on recess so I'm sneaking in a blog post! :)

Tonight is our oldest daughter's indoor soccer awards ceremony. This is my husband's third year of coaching her! Have I ever mentioned what an awesome dad he is?? HE IS!! I thought I would surprise him with a gift card for Starbucks {one of his favorite treats that we don't indulge in very often}! I whipped up a cute tag using my Silhouette software, and cut it out with a scallop punch. "Having you as a coach is worth a million BUCKS!" ;)

I don't know what's up with blogger and these funky-placed pictures. I didn't change my settings, but I'll be sure to check before I upload next time to see what's up! Bear with me because they are being stubborn in letting me move them. We had a team dad {and friend of ours} step up the last few games and be Brandon's assistant coach because our other original coach stopped coming altogether. Who knows why, BUT we are SO thankful that this dad stepped up to help! It's a big job to be there every Saturday and direct a whole team of 1st and 2nd graders! He's a biking/hiking/outdoors kind of guy so I'm ASSUMING he eats trail mix! Watch him be allergic to nuts! LOL. I love this Monster Mix from Target! His tag says "It would have been NUTS without you!" :) He also gets a little Starbucks card.

Last of all, I made one of these for each player. They are chocolate covered oreos on a stick. This one I didn't try to come up with a clever saying to match the gift because the kids won't care! They'll just care about devouring it! LOL

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bucket List

My husband and I are going with friends {in less than a month!} to see U2 in concert in Anaheim! This is something that I kind of never thought possible. They don't exactly tour a lot, and they are only there for two days. I am excited to cross something off my bucket list. A good friend of mine just crossed something off of her bucket list last week, eating dinner at The French Laundry. I had never heard of it, but after I googled it, I could see why. It has all got me thinking and I thought I would share some more of my ever-growing bucket list. These are absolutely not in order of priority!
#1 Stay at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. This is a trip I would like to take as a family, when the girls are teenagers and can appreciate the city. I went as a ninth grader on a class trip and I loved it. Ever since the movie Big Business I have wanted to stay at the Plaza Hotel, and Home Alone 2 only added to my longing. LOL.

#2 Travel to France...all over France. I took four years of French in high school and my husband will occasionally ask me to speak french but it embarrasses me to use the accent we were taught, so I always say no. I think he just wants to laugh at me. If I would have known I would be moving to California I would have chose Spanish. Not really a need for French on the west coast! lol. I learned so much about the culture, country and language that I would love to go and see it all in person. This would be a hubby trip. :)

#3 Italy-ALLOVER Italy. I have a long list of cities I'd like to visit and unfortunately I feel like this is soooo out of reach. I would love to take my mother in law. It is her ONE dream and she worries that she will never see it, and that soon she will be too old to go. I tell her she's crazy, my mother in law is only 60 and she acts like she's 40, always on the go. She could totally handle the crazy travel! I think to make this a reality we would have to have a year with no medical bills and devote an entire tax return to sending the two of us....which never seems to be possible.

#4 This is my BIGGEST, most dreamt about trip... a anniversary trip to Bora Bora. I want a hut on the water that has a glass window in the floor. This pic is from The Four Seasons Resort. I REALLY want to save my pennies for this one first!

Everything seems so far out of grasp, but what if I took them down, one by one? Losing my dad so unexpectedly in March has just reinforced the dreamer in me. Every day you wake up could be your very last. Don't get me wrong, my priorities are pursuing God and loving my family, but these are my dreams. These are what I'd like to see/do/experience before I take my last breath. I 'd better start saving my pennies {maybe devoting my party planning profits?} or I'll never cross any of them off the list. Unless of course EVERYONE in town wants a new air conditioner this year....LOL. {Hubby's business}

I always wonder what's on everyone else's bucket list....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shop Sweet Lulu

In March of this year I took on my first two party planning jobs. Since then, I have booked 4 more parties and a wedding! I have had to turn down two other requests {reluctantly} since I am limiting myself to two parties a month. When I plan a party I put SO much thought and time into every detail, so I'm trying not to over-commit. I thought I would share my secret weapon with you...Shop Sweet Lulu!
I made these cupcakes today using some polka dot candy cups from the shop. {I'll be sharing the recipe for the homemade Chocolate Buttercream soon!} Jessie, the owner is a super friendly gal! I love that she always sends an email after you order, and she ships the products super fast! Wait until you see her prices! You're probably thinking "I don't wanna pay shipping" but with her prices so reasonable, you can afford to pay shipping! AND you won't find these adorable products at the local party store! {At least not in my city!} Take a look at just a FEW of my favorite products-but be sure to check out her site-she has SO much more!

Mini chevron treat bags.

Polka dot treat bags.

Striped treat bags.

Damask treat bags! Love!

They come in many other colors as well!

I know what I'll be ordering more of next... candy cups!

Popcorn cones!

Berry boxes and glass milk bottles!

Treat stands.

How cute is this ice cream truck?! I LOVE it!! {I have one waiting for just the right party!} ;)

I LOVE paper straws! They make everything more beautiful!

If you are a photographer looking to make a statement, check out these 36" balloons! She also has some of these huge ones in polka dots!

I ordered some of these regular sized balloons for an upcoming red and turquoise party! They're gonna be so cute!

I love these tissue puffs! These come in TONS of colors! They look so good grouped in a cluster! I have a handful of these up my sleeve too!

How about 21" tissue fans? I'm telling you, you will be SHOCKED when you see that you can afford to make your party fabulous! Check out Shop Sweet Lulu, you'll be glad you did! ;)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flag Block Subway Art

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know I have a SUPERcalicraftilistic friend named Sheri! We spent a year together coordinating the creative activities for our MOPS group. She is amazing! Last week we met at a home thrift store to sift through old wood, doors, windows, knobs, etc. She surprised me with a craft kit! How cute is the packaging???She pre-painted everything and cut the vinyl lettering. She included a piece of transfer tape to make it easy. All I had to do was attach the vinyl words and wrap the white ribbon around the edges and tie a bow! Super cute!

I love my friends, they give me craft kits! ;) Thanks crafty sister!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lantern Hanger

I thought I took pictures as I made this....after loading my pics, I guess I didn't. I prepped a board the same way I did in my Monogram Block. I sprayed it with Heirloom White, sanded the edges, and wiped on some antiquing glaze. I got this awesome lantern for Mother's Day and it needed a home! {Thanks Joy!} I bought this hook in the knob aisle at Hobby Lobby for 50% off.All I had to do was attach a picture hanger on the back, flip it over and screw on the hook. Hang up the lantern and done!

Yes, I have the world's crappiest camera! Sorry!

I already had the board, the lantern was a gift, so this project cost me $3.00 for the hook. That's my kind of project! ;)

Pallet Decor

When I stumbled across this picture on Pinterest last week, I KNEW I had to make one! I asked at Restore if they had a pallet I could buy. They said no, but that they had a pile of them next to their old store they just moved from and I could go take whatever I wanted for free! Yippee! I was there buying some french doors and an old door for the wedding I'm decorating, so I was there by myself with a truck. I'm nothing if not determined, so I went over there and loaded that dirty, spider-filled thing all by myself! I tried to just hose it off, but it didn't do the trick. My hubby was nice enough to get out his power washer and spray it off yesterday. The two inside boards on each side were originally in the middle of the pallet. I pried them up myself with a pry bar and a hammer. Then I moved them over to the sides and re-hammered them in.

Today my hubby helped me hang it! It took a lot of measuring and stud-finding but we got it!

I ABSOLUTELY love it!! I hung up my pictures on it, and it looks great!

I used to have a huge picture of an outdoor market here and I still love it, but with all of my house updates, it didn't "go" anymore. One more thing in my big yard sale pile! I re-hung my candle holders and bought some white tapers to replace my orange ones that matched the picture. I hope you like it...I am totally in love!

Linking up to Tatertots and Jello!


I found some old shutters at ReStore (the habitat for humanity thrift store) last week. I am in love with this store! I've got lots of other projects coming up with crap I found there! ;) Including WEDDING stuff! Yes, I am officially deocrating my first wedding this fall! Woo hoo! Ok, back to the shutters... the tall one was $15, short one was $10. They are folded in half in this pic, so they open up to twice the width. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with them until I saw this picture on pinterest!I painted them with a robin's egg-type of aqua paint I already had. After it dried, I brushed antiquing glaze over the whole thing. The chips in it happened by accident, because of the type of finish on the shutter before I painted them, when I was wiring the pictures to it some of the paint shipped off. That's one of the best things about shabby chic. Accidents look purposeful! :)

Birch Tree Planks

On date night last week I talked my hubby into running into Rescued Treasures before dinner. I just can't help just never know what you're going to find. Check out this link of a super cute tree painted on planks. I discovered it on pinterest. By the way, have you discovered pinterest??? ENDLESS inspiration! I'm in trouble! I found this dragon on planks for $6.88. I instantly whipped out my pinterest app on my iphone and checked out the tree plank idea again to see if I thought I could do it on this.

One of my fellow "trash to treasure" friends asked me if I was embarrassed to buy it...yes! lol

I taped off the edges, just a little bit past the ugly dragon, so that I would be sure to cover the whole thing. I painted a couple of coats of paint that I already had. After that dried, my hubby free handed a tree while looking at my inspiration picture. I would have loved to make a stencil on my silhouette but it was just too big!

I love the texture of the board. Can you see it? I totally helps out the birch tree effect. I painted it white by HAND and it took me over an hour and a half!

After it dried overnight, I used the tip of a foam brush and a super light amount of antiquing glaze to add the black lines that are on birch trees. I dabbed it on a paper towel first to remove most of it, and then if it still went on too dark, I smudged it with my finger to make it lighter and blend.After all of that it still looked to "new" to me. I just can't handle full on paint in most situations. I was afraid of ruining it with sanding but it worked great!

I took a piece of sandpaper and lightly rubbed all over it. The best part is I did it right after the glaze so it also smeared the glaze all over it too.

I was worried about the dragon showing it's ugly face again if I sanded it, but it didn't, it came off too, so the board shows through a bit in spots. Love it! I still like the original better, but I like mine too. :)