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my big YES

This is the blog post I’ve been putting off for weeks.

I’ve been struggling with how to begin.

I know it is what I want … and what I need to do, but…

rip it off

OK, enough talking about it and procrastinating … I’m going to just rip off the band-aid and get it over with.

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March 25, 2015   12 Comments

the power of YES

yellow and blue power ranger

Recently I read something that has given me the renewed strength to say “yes” to something that I’ve said “no” to for far too long.

Before I share the article I read and before I tell you my “Yes Thing,” let me tell you a little back story about my first encounter with the Power of Yes.

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March 24, 2015   4 Comments

Dave’s shrimp cocktail sauce

For Sunday appetizers, Dave wanted to serve shrimp cocktails. He had the shrimp and assumed that I’d have cocktail sauce among the dozens upon dozens of bottles and jars of condiments, olives, pickles, sauces, and relishes I have in that fridge!

He was wrong. I told him he could easily make his own cocktail sauce, just go online and find a recipe.

He did, and then he zipped it up and called it his own!

The secret ingredient? Heinz chili sauce. Instead of all ketchup, like you’ll find in most cocktail sauce recipes, it was an equal combination of each.

chili sauce

Attaboy! I’ve trained my family well.

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March 23, 2015   1 Comment

Roasted Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

DSCN7469

This recipe combines parts of two recipes already posted here; the mac & cheese part is of this recipe. Plus roasted cauliflower from this recipe, which I posted nearly three years ago.

caulifry

I’ve made a few tweaks to the original recipes and combined them.

elbows

One problem, I did not read my own recipe and made the mac & cheese pictured below with a full pound of macaroni instead of the 8-ounces called for.  It was still delicious in flavor, just dry instead of creamy, as it should be.

If you don’t make the same mistake, your family will love this version of good old mac & cheese!

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March 19, 2015   1 Comment

bridal shower invite

My sweet sister, Sloane, along with my dear friends, Barb and Kim, are throwing Marissa a bridal shower in May.

bride

They are the dream team of hostesses. Barb and Kim, cooking teachers and talented culinaires, are handling the food. And Sloane is an event and wedding coordinator. Dream Team, indeed!

Sloane asked for my help on the theme and decor. Since Marissa has a degree in Journalism and is a voracious reader, I decided on a literary theme.

books

Sloane and I are meeting each weekend between now and then, working on decor for the shower. I wish I could start sharing it with you now, but of course, we want it to be a surprise for Marissa and her guests.  Let’s just say, there is a lot of crafting involved!

stack

Since they have been mailed and received, the one thing I can share now is the invite. I knew exactly what sort of invite I wanted to set the tone and theme, so I insisted on ordering and paying for the invites. It’s the least I can do for my gracious and generous sister and friends!

invites

I ordered them from HERE on Etsy. Kendra was a dream to work with, I’d order from her again in a heartbeat.

Let me show you all the sweet details of these unique and one-of-a-kind invites.

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March 18, 2015   2 Comments

handmade birthday gifts

As soon as I received the invitation to Zak & Zoey’s First Birthday Party, I began thinking about a unique gift for them.

play pen

I knew they didn’t need more toys, as you can see! This space used to be Steve & Tram’s beautiful formal living room, now turned into a huge play pen. Or as Tram calls, it Romper Room! Kids change your life!

I was searching for something personalized, unique, made just for each of them.

etsy

I turned to Etsy. If you don’t already know about Etsy …”Etsy is a website where you can buy and sell handmade or vintage items, art, supplies and so much more. Etsy is the world’s most vibrant handmade marketplace.”

I typed “1st birthday gifts” into the search bar and began strolling through all the possibilities.

etsy chalkboard

The first thing that caught my eye was this personalized chalkboard sign. I immediately sent an email to Tram asking for the twins’ favorite toys and foods and their first words, heights, weights, etc.

She replied, “Aww, you are SO SWEET!!!! We think alike! I’m actually having Steve work on this chalkboard 1 year mark too. I’m sure it’s similar to what you were thinking! I’m sorry to have spoiled your idea if that’s what it was.” 

Darn, back to the drawing board.

highchairs

Next I spotted the party hats! I could not pass those up and absolutely had to order one for each, but that wasn’t a gift they would be able to open, so I needed something more.

etsy scrabble art

Finally, I found this! The best part? I can make this myself! I have a boxful of scrabble letters, I have blue and pink craft paper leftover from Tram’s baby shower and I have glue. All I needed were the shadow boxes.

pile of tiles

If you don’t happen to have extra scrabble tiles lying about and you don’t want to break into your Scrabble game to poach them, they can be easily found online, including on Etsy. Just type “Scrabble tiles” in the search bar and you’ll be amazed by all the options.

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March 17, 2015   2 Comments

Zakary & Zoey’s 1st Birthday Party!

Zak and Zoey, the darling children of my dear friend, Tram, celebrated their first birthday on Saturday!

pink table

Boy has the year flown by. It seems like only yesterday that I was throwing Tram her baby shower!

entr

Tram asked me to come over early to decorate. The twins were down for their nap, so decorating went smooth and quick.

patio

We kept it simple, mostly just photos of the twins scattered on the tables, streamers, pom poms and balloons.

fav fam

Tram had picked up a couple of light-up Z’s, so I placed them on either side of a family portrait for the buffet.

Tram

The breakfast table was the most elaborately decorated area, with not only the pom poms and balloons, but also with chalkboard art that daddy-extraordinaire, Steve, made for each twin.

zak chalk

Zak’s first year milestones…

zoey chalk

… and Zoey’s.

3 cakes

Of course, the three (yes, 3!) cakes were the showstoppers of the table.

zak cake

Zak’s!

zoey cake

Zoey’s!

monkey cake

And a third cake that Chef Mel Mecinas, of the Four Seasons Scottsdale, had his pastry chef make for the twins, based on their favorite book, Five Little Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed. Adorable!

menu board

Then there was Tram’s beautiful handwritten menu board. I love that huge board, and I love Tram’s exquisite writing!

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March 16, 2015   4 Comments

jalapeño popper soup

jalapenopoppers

If you love jalapeño poppers. And who doesn’t?

And if you love soup … I can’t imagine not loving soup …

Then you’ll love this jalapeño popper soup!

It has everything there is to love about poppers; bacon, cream cheese and, of course, jalapeño.

jalapeno

I have a jalapeño bush and I like to let my peppers turn red before picking. You may use green or red peppers for this and any recipe calling for jalapeño peppers.

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March 13, 2015   2 Comments

healthy and delicious chips

Cooking teacher extraordinaire, Joanne Weir, is teaching classes at Les Gourmettes this week.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 10.15.04 PM

One of her recipes really spoke to me.

Now, we’ve all had hummus with chips. And we’ve all enjoyed hummus with crudités.  But none of that compares to Joanne’s hummus with fresh vegetable chips. It is outstanding!

veggie chips

The vegetable chips are crispy and crunchy like tortilla or pita chips and they are healthy like crudités.  Oh right, because they ARE crudités, just cut and treated a little “out of the box.”

colorful

An added bonus – it is a gorgeous presentation!

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March 11, 2015   2 Comments

My mom turns 80

clubhouse

Yesterday was my mother’s 80th birthday. My sister, Sloane, and her kids, threw Mom a birthday party at her neighborhood clubhouse.

IMG_8930

Sloane sent out the invite which included one of Mom’s old modeling photos.

invite

I’ve mentioned before that my mom has Alzheimer’s, so the party was for family and a couple of her closest friends.

upright

Mom started out sitting up and was pretty alert… but as the family arrived and the minutes passed …

side

… she faded fast and was slipping down in the chair. That is… until “Elvis” arrived!

star

Then she was wide-eyed and as happy as a clam while Elvis serenaded her and entertained the guests.

Elvis

Now, I’m going to be 100% honest.

When Sloane said she hired an Elvis impersonator, I thought, “Really? How tacky.”

I could not have been more wrong! He was very talented (no lip-syncing for this guy!) and everyone loved it, especially the Birthday Girl.

Thank you, Sloane. Baby sister knows best!

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March 9, 2015   No Comments