Monday, April 7, 2014

Must-Have Items to Pack for Coachella

I am heading out to the desert for my first Coachella festival this weekend (woot!), so I thought I’d share a few items I‘m packing!
...in addition to the floppy hat, flower crown, high-waisted shorts, and crop tops, I mean.   Duh.







Festival Goods:

Clockwise, from top left.

Shoes - These cute little booties were cheap at Charlotte Russe, so if they get stepped on and dirty, I won’t be sad.  It will be hot, but I am opting for closed toe shoes, to minimize little piggies getting stepped on and covered in dirt. Break in your new shoes a couple days before, so you don't get insta-blisters Day 1.

Phone Charger -  There are charging stations there, but I thought something battery powered might be good to have on hand.  Those phone cases that are a built in battery charger are like $99, but Walmart had these portable, battery operated USB port phone chargers for $22! Win!

Water Bottle - There are filtered water fountain stations as per Coachella.com, so I got this snazzy little water bottle that folds up flat, and then stands up when filled with water. You can bring in empty, reusable water bottles, just not your own water. Boom.  Done!

Hand Wipes & Tissues -  I'll be throwing a travel pack of tissues and wet wipes into my bag, for sure.  Porta-Potties, bring it on! ;)

Scarf / Thin Blanket - A thicker material, wide width scarf, or pashmina, can double as both a wrap when it gets cold later, or as a blanket to sit on. And it folds up way smaller than a towel or real blanket, or you can even tie it onto your bag or belt loop. Win.

Bag - I wanted a bigger crossbody bag for daytime so I can keep a water bottle, sweater, and such, without having an overstuffed smaller bag or fanny pack. This one from Target was cute, cheap, lightweight, and fit the bill!

All right, Coachella.  Let's DO THIS!!!






I leave you with some tunes!

Clarity (feat. Foxes) by Zedd on Grooveshark Nicest Thing by Kate Nash on Grooveshark Sounds Like Hallelujah by The Head and the Heart on Grooveshark Don't Stop (Color on the Walls) by Foster The People on Grooveshark







Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wine Tasting In Your Very Own Neighborhood at Total Wine!

Have you guys ever shopped at Total Wine & More?  They have every wine and liquor ever, plus more beer varieties than you'd ever believe!



But, they also offer free ($0.10 charity donation) wine tastings on Fridays - Sundays!






AND, they host wine tasting and beer tasting classes each month! ($20 per person)

Wine tasting in your very own neighborhood!

My friend and I were invited to attend a wine tasting class last week, which was so much fun!


I (and a +1) was invited to attend a class for free, in exchange for this blog post and other social media mentions


Each class has a theme - this was wines from Oregon and Washington.






There are an abundance of snacks - cheeses, meat, crackers, bread, fruit, and chocolate! (What more can one want with wine?!) Bottles of water (and an intermission/bathroom break!) are also provided, which were ideal, haha.






The class is held in a special room of the store, and your host shares history and fun facts about the wines in a slide show presentation as you get to taste many regional wines (like 10, actually! - don't forget to eat something! ;) ) Well worth the $20 fee!  Many of the cheese and chocolates went particularly well with certain wines, and we learned a lot about food/wine pairings, as well as the history of how the wines are made.


The class is two hours, with a short break halfway though.

Our host, Kirk, at the Laguna Hills location, was a sommelier, and shared a lot of great information, along with the wine.









The wineries and the store provided us with a big packet of information, including a price and detail list of each wine we tried.  This came in handy, as we marked which ones we liked as we went along, so we remembered which were our favorites to buy at the end!




We also were provided with a flavor wheel. This was a fun way to figure out what we were tasting in each wine, whether it be cocoa, berries, oak, or vanilla.  Ehem, SOME items on the wheel are less than pleasant, and you don't want to know if the grapes were grown in or near those items, so we just pretended those didn't exist. Ew. Moving on!!







When the tasting class is over, you can buy any of the wines featured in the class for 10% off!


My favorites were the Kudos Pinot Noir ($24) and the Radius Chardonnay (a bargain $9!)

Plus, once you are inside this huge, amazing store, you can't help but wander the aisles, pointing out interesting and humorous craft beer labels, every single flavor ever of flavored vodka in every brand, mini-bar sized bottles of all the hard alcohol, as well, including a baby Patron bottle! Haha, so cute!, and more wines that you could imagine! It is so fun to just walk through the store! Bet you can't walk out without buying a few things to try!

This is such a fun girl's night out or date night, without even leaving town!





Check out Total Wine & More's complete listing of store locations, each which have their own wine tastings, and wine and beer classes, and make your way down to your local Total Wine store!


Calander of Classes by location and type

Also, be sure to follow Total Wine on Instagram Facebook, and Twitter !

Plus, if you are Local:
Total Wine - Laguna Hills
Total Wine - Tustin 
on Facebook, 

and:

Total Wine SoCal on Twitter

to keep up to date on local store events!!
Or, do a search for your local store on Facebook or Twitter, and follow along!

Thanks to Total Wine for this opportunity. I hope you check out these awesome classes and tastings!
Cheers!!





Friday, March 14, 2014

Luck of The Irish Green Velvet Whoopie Pies for St. Patrick's Day!

Top O' the mornin' to ya!
and Happy Friday!

My go to fave and festive St. Patrick's Day treat is still these red green velvet whoopie pies (read: cake-like sandwich cookie) I made a few years back!

Red velvet is just a chocolate buttermilk cake with a shit ton of food coloring, haha. So, changing the color won't change the flavor at all!
Food coloring isn't my favorite thing ever, but it does make things fun and festive!

Also, I'd definitely add some gold shimmer dust to the tops of these, a la my Oscars Party cupcakes with gold dust because, well, why not?!

Full Recipe Here: St. Patrick's Day Green Velvet Whoopie Pies



Hope you all have a glorious weekend in the sunshine!! (oh...or, if you aren't in California, I think you are hating life in the snow still right now...my apologies...just eat more whoopie pies!!)

I am off to Disneyland this weekend with the family! Woohoo!!






Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Academy Awards Party Snacks!




So. I am pretty obsessed with edible glitter dust. I discovered it in the cake decorating section of Michael's when I made these Oscars cupcakes for the first time a few years back, and have been hooked ever since.
I gifted some to a friend recently for her birthday, because, who doesn't need a little more shimmer in their life?!


Wilton Shimmer Pearl Dust

These adorable and festive mini cupcakes are pretty easy to decorate, although they don't all come out picture perfect.  But, they are delicious nonetheless, and the perfect treat during the Academy Awards show this weekend, and the most important part: the Red Carpet Arrivals!






Check out the recipe below, to make your own little star shaped stencil, and get to painting the roses, err, stars...gold.


Red Carpet/Academy Award themed mini red velvet cupcakes for your Oscar viewing party!

Enjoy!!



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Veggie Quiche and The Best Pie Crust Ever

Guess what, guys?
I don't like pie crust. Nope. Never have. I have tried all different types. And don't get me wrong, I love pie!!!
I just usually leave about half of the crust (the soggy bottom part is decent), and eat the good stuff, aka the filling!
I just think pie crust is dry and boring...or, at least I used to!

Enter. Stater Bros. refrigerated pie crust.
Gotcha! It's not even a secret homemade recipe!
It's a dang pre-made crust, with zero healthy ingredients, but who cares, because it is so delicious!



We have my good friend Lauren (Check out her Blog: Imperfect and Fabulous!) to thank for that one!
I am so glad she made her quiche for me, and I discovered this Stater Bros. pie crust!


To start, take the crust out of the fridge about 15min before you are ready to bake, so it will roll out a bit easier, and not crack.
Preheat the oven to 400, and roll the pie crust into a pie pan.
Poke it with a fork in a few places, and bake for 5-8min.  This prevents the crust from becoming soggy later.
To be honest, I think part of the reason I have never liked pie crust, is I don't like a crisp, well done crust, so sometimes I skip this part, because I like a soggy crust! The egg mixture doesn't seep through, and it still turns out fine. Just very soft.  Yum.  I'm probably weird.

While your crust is par-baking (or sitting raw waiting for you on the counter!), mix up your filling.

Whisk 4 eggs until well beaten, then add 1 cup of half and half (skim milk works fine, too).
Add salt, pepper, and any other spices or herbs you like. A little garlic or onion powder are always good.



Mommy trick:  place veggies (shredded zucchini - water squeezed out, chopped spinach, pre-sauteed mushrooms, bacon, ham, any thing you'd like!) in the bottom of the pie crust.
Add 1 cup of grated cheese (jack, swiss, cheddar...) on top of the veggies into the pan. I really like goat cheese sometimes, too!

Pour the egg mixture into the pie pan over the top of the other stuff.
You can fill it about to the top, since it won't rise much as it bakes.

Mommy trick #2: Sprinkle the top with a dash of nutmeg.



Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

Bake for about an hour, or until set.



Let cool before eating.
I like quiche warm, like you'd eat scrambled eggs, but it also is great cold, or at room temperature.
(I think I usually just eat it warm, because I am hungry and impatient!) 



Recipe:
Veggie Quiche
Adapted from Imperfect and Fabulous
as well as my  Momma's recipe

  • 1 Pie Crust
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c half and half, or milk
  • 1/2c-1c shredded or diced veggies of choice 
  • 1 c shredded cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • dash of nutmeg






Monday, February 10, 2014

Champagne Soaked Chocolate Covered Heart-Shaped Strawberries

Though I don't currently have a special someone (accepting applications!), I still love making festive holiday treats, and Valentine's Day is no exception.
My sister came over for a little baking extravaganza - best soux chef ever!! - so I could have some fabulous company, and send her home with some treats to share with her boyfriend.



We combined two different recipes, HERE and HERE, soaking strawberries in champagne, and then forming them into adorable heart shapes, and dipping in chocolate. And they were yum!

The heart shape doesn't fully come through until you cover them in chocolate, so hold out hope until then! Although, I'm not going to lie, some of them turn out butt-shaped. Those ones you can keep for yourself ;)
They all taste the same. Amazing!

What you'll need:
(Quantities based on how many you'd like to make)
Strawberries (smaller ones with only a single point at the bottom work best)
Bottle of Champagne (your choice. Prosecco would work fine, too!)
Toothpicks (1 wooden toothpick for each strawberry)
Chocolate (milk, white, or dark)
Couple tablespoons of oil (vegetable, coconut)


Start by rinsing strawberries well, and cutting straight across the tops, trimming off just the stems.



Toss in a bowl filled with champagne, making sure all the strawberries are covered, and let soak for a couple hours. 


They pick up plenty of champagne flavor-flav in that amount of time. The recipe above recommended overnight, but I think they would get too soggy by then, especially since we are cutting them in half afterwards; you need them to hold their shape still.  
We also decided soaking them whole, instead of already cut in half, worked much better.

Remove from liquid, and pat dry with paper towels.



Cut berries in half, from top to bottom, and keeping the halves paired with each other, lay side by side, and stick a toothpick through the sides to hold them together in a heart shape.



 Some strawberries will look much more heart shaped than others, just depending on their natural shape. You can carve a rounded edge on the outer corners if they need some work. If a strawberry is more oval shaped looking at it from the top, instead of a circle, try cutting it the short way, instead of left to right, to get a better heart shape result.
If that made no sense...use trial and error. You'll figure it out!

Once all the strawberries are strung up on toothpicks, melt some chocolate with a couple tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil in a double boiler pan (or a heat-proof bowl, over a pot of simmering water, if you don't have a double boiler. I use mine only like 3x a year, but it is worth investing in one!) until smooth and melted.

Dip the berries in the chocolate, using two forks, evenly coating all sides. Tap on the side of the pan to remove excess chocolate, then lay on wax paper to set.
Tip: Put a big sheet of wax, or parchment paper on a cookie sheet, or two, so when you are done dipping, you can easily transport them all directly into the fridge to set up.
Once the chocolate is set, they are ready to eat!






You can also melt some white chocolate, dying pink or red, if you'd like, and drizzle it over the tops of the strawberries.




Or you can get crazy, and pretend you are 5, and draw ladybugs and butterflies and hearts on some.
Like I said: no significant other to impress. Haha. So, doodle on these as much as your lil' heart desires. They all still taste the same!




These are best enjoyed within 24 hours or so. After that, the berries get a bit soggy, and the champagne leaks out.  
I still used the 2-3 day old leftovers, chopped up, on top of pancakes, with peanut butter, this morning!
YUM!

Anyway, these make such a fun treat for your Valentine, friends and family, or just for yourself!
We made quite a few, but you can make a few or as many as you'd like. Just adjust the amount of chocolate melted accordingly. And drink the leftover champagne you didn't use to soak the berries.
Actually, we drank the strawberry essence-ed leftover post-soaking champagne, too. We fancy like that.

Enjoy!






Saturday, February 8, 2014

3D Paper Heart Garland for Valentine's Day

More crafts!

I just love all the pretty vintage-looking scrapbook paper patterns I found at Hobby Lobby!


I found another Valentine's Day (or year round!) garland idea from Elizabeth over at Doodle-ee-doo: HERE.


All you need is scissors, double sides tape, and paper. Plus, string to hang the garland.


Start by either printing out a heart shape template to trace, or free-hand drawing your first heart on the "wrong" side of your paper.  You only need single-sided scrapbook paper for this one, as the double sided would be wasted.

If you have a hard time drawing that second half of a heart to make it match the first half, fold a piece of paper in half, draw half a heart, and with the paper still folded, cut it out, and ta-da! A full heart! Don't say I never learned anything in second grade art class!

Anywho, cut out a ton of the same side hearts from paper.

You do want them to be as close as possible to exactly the same size and shape, because you are going to put them back to back, and don't want any overhang.







Once you have a bunch of hearts (To make one 3D heart, you will need 5 flat hearts), fold them all in half, pretty paper side in.






Put two folded hearts side by side, and tape or glue the two wrong sides together, back to back.




Keep going, until you have attached 5 hearts together, and finish the heart by taping the first half to the last half, completing the circle, and forming your first 3D heart!














Kay, is that enough photos to understand the concept? Did ya get it?? Ok, good!


Now, repeat and make several 3D heart shapes.


To hang, glue or tape a piece of embroidery thread or other string into one of the creases of each heart, so they all hang in a row.  If you wanted a horizontal garland, you could punch holes in the tops or sides and string them side by side.






















Another great, easy, and cute Valentine's Day craft!




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