Sending paper invitations is a lost art reserved only for the biggest events in a person's life like weddings. I am as guilty as the next person choosing to use Evite and occasionally Paperless Post. While these are two green options, they are not as special as receiving an invitation via the good ole USPS. The last two times I have sent traditional invitations I was able to utilize the crafting skills of my mom. For those of you that don't have access to this skilled labor, I would suggest checking out one of these great sites recommended by Real Simple. There are a variety of options depending on the type of event and look and feel you are trying to convey. The best part is that these invitations can be designed online using templates which takes the guess work out of the creation process. So check these sites out and don't forget to invite me to your next event!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Those that know me well know that I drink a fair amount of wine. Wine glasses are notoriously a hand wash item though when you don't have a dishwasher everything is a hand wash item. I buy my scrubbers from Target and unfortunately they don't always cut it for cleaning my wine glasses and NEVER cut it for cleaning my champagne flutes. When I came across this product, I knew my problems had been solved. The Chef'n Sudster Drinkware Scrubber actually collapses to fit into the narrowest of glassware. Super easy to use and my wine glasses have never been cleaner. I use mine to clean all glassware but it is most impressive when cleaning items that traditional scrubbers could never clean. I purchased mine through Sur La Table though Amazon sells them too (however they are more expensive). If you hand wash wine glasses, this will improve the process drastically!
Monday, April 18, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
I still have two easy dinners from "Bachelor Monday" to share but with these wonderful bursts of warm weather I have been feeling like summer is just around the corner. Well, at least in LA it is (sorry to my Ohio readers who are still having bursts of winter!). A couple weeks ago I threw together a delicious warm weather dinner that was both full of flavor and light on the calories - Lemon Cucumber Quinoa and Grapefruit Avocado Salad.
Lemon Cucumber Quinoa
NOTE: I made an entire batch of quinoa but only used about 1/2 for the preparation below. This allows you to make a variety of salads out of the same batch of quinoa.
1 Cup Red Quinoa (other quinoa can be substituted)
2 Cups Water (broth can be substituted)
Good Quality Salt (I like the Pink Himalayan Salt with a grinder from Trader Joe's)
1. Prepare quinoa in water in either a rice cooker or on the stove according to package directions. Allow to cool to room temperature.
2. Based on the amount of quinoa you are using with this preparation, finely chop cucumber and mint. Add to quinoa.
3. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste. You will want to make sure there is a noticeable lemon flavor but not overpowering.
4. Add a dash of olive oil and a bit of salt.
5. Stir and adjust the above as needed.
Makes approximately 8 side servings if all the quinoa is used.
For more great quinoa recipes, check out past posts here as well as The Little Red Apron - my friend Lisa's blog!
Grapefruit Avocado Salad
Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (regular champagne vinegar with a little orange juice would probably be a fine substitution)
Good Quality Salt
1. Rinse butter lettuce (if needed) and add to salad bowl.
2. Cut up avocado, red onion and grapefruit in proportion to the amount of lettuce used. I recommend that not more than a ratio of 1/3 toppings to 2/3 lettuce be used as these are bold flavors.
3. Lightly salt the salad.
4. Mix together the vinegar and olive oil. I have found the best way to do this is to slowly add the olive oil to the vinegar while whisking. The amount will vary based on how wet a salad you prefer. Personally I feel that this salad is best with just a bit of dressing. Remember, you can always add more if you feel you went too light.
5. Toss and serve.
I served this with the Grilled Lemon Chicken from Trader Joe's however even without the chicken it was a great meal for my vegetarian friend. We enjoyed a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with our meal however next time I would probably choose a different label. I can't wait for the weather to stay warm and enjoy more meals like this all summer long!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
My love of Trader Joe's is transparent in this blog. Honestly, I would starve without it. One of my favorite products offered by TJ's is the delicious Powerberries. They are described on the package as follows...
- Powerberries are real fruit juice pieces made with acai, pomegranate, cranberry and blueberry juices and dipped in smooth dark chocolate.
- Excellent source of vitamin C.
- Made with dark chocolate, a natural source of flavanol antioxidants.
Sounds like a health food right? Well, maybe not but I tell myself that is the case because they are completely addictive. I have eat them one at a time and very slowly in order to not eat too many. I especially recommend enjoying them with red wine as the berry and chocolate flavors in the Powerberries are a perfect match for the wine.
If you have yet to try these I encourage you to do so at your earliest convenience. I look forward to your letters of appreciation for this find/hate mail for sucking you into my addiction.
Monday, April 11, 2011
I was hoping to get a new post up today but unfortunately did not get the chance. There is always tomorrow! In the meantime, check out this great article from Real Simple titled 6 Foolproof Eye Treatments. They are not eye creams but still interesting ways to pamper your delicate eye area!
This eye has nothing to do with the article. I just thought it was pretty.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Last Wednesday, I posted about my new favorite cleaning tool - Tilex Tile & Grout Pen. It got me thinking about other products I love and a new idea was born. Product Placement Wednesday! Unlike actual product placement deals, I don't actually get anything out of hawking these products. However, what you get is details on a product I believe in and not just because I am being paid to do so. So here we go!
Those readers who also read my posts on Facebook may recall me proclaiming my love for this mascara a few months back. Maybelline is known for making quality inexpensive mascaras that particularly excel in volumizing with the classic Great Lash. While this mascara is a classic for a reason, I find The Falsies to be far superior. The shape of the brush and style of bristles really boosts your lashes while not clumping up at the same time. It comes in three colors - Very Black, Brownish Black and the blackest of all - Black Drama. I have found that occasionally you will find that the brush has too much mascara on it. Don't try to use it like that as it will clump. Either wipe it off on lint free tissue paper (NOT toliet paper) or if that is not available utilize the top of the tube. All of the experts say to throw your mascara away after 3 months - I don't follow that rule. That being said, when my mascara was past it's prime it was way more clumpy. Once it starts to dry out, pitch it. There is a new mascara on the streets that I have been curious to try - One By One but am so in love with The Falsies I am not sure that will happen! Let me know if any of you have had a chance to check it out!
Monday, April 4, 2011
Me! Of course you shouldn't be surprised since I am the one handing out the award. So as you probably guessed, this is the recap of my annual Oscar party - 9th annual to be exact. Unfortunately there are not a lot of photos as we were all too busy eating and drinking to be bothered with picture taking!
As per usual, I used Evite for my invitations for ease of use, friendliness to the environment, and cost. I like the survey tool and that invitees can post on the "wall" of the invite. This event was a potluck so it allowed guests to see what others were bringing to the event. The other site I recommend is Paperless Post however this is not a free site and does not feature the same survey tools as Evite. If those aspects are not an issue for you and the look of a more traditional invitation is preferred, this site is for you.
As I mentioned, this event is almost always a potluck with everyone bringing an appetizer and bottle of bubbly to share. This year we had a lovely array of tasty treats to enjoy! Some of the items included hot wings, gourmet cheese plate, spinach & artichoke dip, hummus, veggies, baked havarti, arancini (Italian rice balls), and several miniature sweets. One of the most memorable items were the special Oscar themed cookies Audra brought to share. There were cookies for each Best Picture nominee as well as an Oscar. If you want to purchase similar cookies cutters, the slate can be found at CopperGifts.com and the statue at CheapCookieCutters.com (Note: There used to be better statue cutters out there but the Academy forced the sites to take them down. If you're crafty, you can always make your own pattern from an image online.)
Beyond all of the great food provided by my guests, I offered a Individual Mini Pizza station and a Shot Glass Ice Cream Sundae bar.
Individual Mini Pizzas
This recipe is modified from the Personal Pizzas recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook (1979 Edition). I will list the recipe as written and note my changes in parenthesis.
Shortening (Did not use)
1 Package Refrigerated Biscuits - Qty 10
1 8 Oz Can/Jar Pizza Sauce (Also offered pesto)
1 4 Oz Package Shredded Mozzarella Cheese - 1 Cup (Offered Quattro Formaggi & Fat Free Feta in lieu of mozzarella)
Suggested toppings: Sliced Pepperoni, Sliced Hot Dogs, Chopped Green Pepper, Pickle Relish, & Sliced Olives (Offered Corn Salsa, Turkey Bacon, Cilantro, Sweet Balsamic Onions, Chives, & Pepperoncicis as toppings however you can use whatever you have on hand and think your guests would enjoy.)
1. Pre-heat oven to 425. Grease 1 or 2 baking sheets with shortening. (Used foil and no grease on baking sheet.)
2. Sprinkle cutting board with flour. Pull biscuits apart. Put 1 biscuit on the floured board. Use rolling pin to roll out biscuit till it is a circle 4 inches across. Put on baking sheet. Repeat with the remainder of the biscuits.(In order to make smaller pizzas, each biscuit was cut in half and rolled out to approximately 2 inch circles. Be sure to roll the biscuits as thin as possible as they tend to puff up while baking.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: From here on is the recipe as written in case you wish to follow it exactly. Rather than pre-top the pizzas, I par-baked them and allowed my guests to top them and finish the baking process in a toaster oven during the event. One issue that I had was that they didn't remain as flat as I would have liked. When making them per the instructions, that was never an issue due to the toppings weighing them down. An alternative you may wish to try is to use a Pie Weight Chain during the par-baking. The pizza "crusts" were par-baked for approximately 5-7 minutes. After guests created their own pizza masterpieces, they were baked in the toaster oven for another approximately 8 minutes.
3. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the pizza sauce onto each biscuit. Spread evenly over the biscuits. Sprinkle each with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cheese.
4. Let each person put favorite toppings on 1 or 2 pizzas.
5. Put pizzas in oven and bake until the crust is brown. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
6. To serve, use a pancake turner (does anyone still call it that?) to put hot pizzas on plates.
Makes 10 (or 20) pizzas.
Shot Glass Ice Cream Sundae Bar
Your Favorite Ice Cream(s) (I used Dreyers Slow Churned No Sugar Added Vanilla.)
Your Favorite Toppings (I used Hershey's Chocolate Syrup Lite, Hershey's Classic Caramel Sundae Syrup, Fat Free Reddi Wip, Lingonberry Jam, Kahlua, and Chopped Peanuts.
1. Using a melon baller, scoop ice cream into shot glass.
2. Add toppings.
3. Repeat to try different flavor combos!
The Oscars are not complete without lots of bubbly! Thankfully with everyone bringing at least one bottle, we had plenty for everyone to enjoy. Unfortunately none of us are bringing in the big bucks so it was all Cristal and Dom. We enjoyed a variety of international sparkling wines with a few options to dress up your bubbles if desired. Choices included frozen berries, lingonberry drink concentrate and elderflower drink concentrate. The lingonberry and elderflower drink concentrates were both purchased from IKEA though the lingonberry can also be found through Amazon. The elderflower is a bit more difficult however St. Germain elderflower liquor is an excellent though more expensive substitute. When using the concentrates, I recommend cutting them on a 1-1 ratio with water. The pure concentrates do not seem to mix as well with champagne.
This was not a costume party exactly but it was a pajama party. The Oscars are such a long show that enjoying it in comfy clothes just makes the night more enjoyable. Plus it is a nice foil to how the stars are dressing at the actual Oscars.
My apartment is small so I don't decorate for this party. If you are hosting your own Oscar party in future years, there are many sites with decor ideas. Or let me know what type of Oscar party you are throwing and I can give you some suggestions.
What's an Oscar party without an Oscar pool? We stopped putting money on it and now it's just for bragging rights. We also played the third annual Thrillist Oscar Bingo. While this year's bingo cards were not as "accurate" as previous years, it was still a fun way to pass the time between boring speeches.
You know it was a good party when there is Kahula running down the front of your liquor cabinet and everyone is moaning about how much they ate. With next year being the 10th annual event, I am going to have to raise my game!
PS - What do you think of the new background for the site? I'm trying a new look out and would love your feedback!
Saturday, April 2, 2011
NOTE: While I plan to continue with original content, I am going to start posting interesting articles, photos, etc that I think my readers may enjoy. Here is the first!
I have been a bridesmaid several times and thankfully the ladies I have stood up for have not been offenders like the examples in the article below. For those ladies out there who are planning a wedding or will be at some point down the road, I encourage you to bookmark this article so your bridesmaids can have the enjoyable experience I did when standing up for Jill, Megan, Mathilde, Audrey and Katie!