Friday, September 4, 2015

Pom-poms!

I'm off to bed here in a minute, but I just wanted to share a great craft that we did together (the girls and I) tonight that was fun and easy and didn't drive me crazy: making pom-poms!

I had actually forgotten all about the cool pom-pom makers I had bought off of Amazon a few years ago now, but they are so easy to use: just wrap, cut and tie. So simple. And the girls had fun picking out what size to make and what color yarn to use too.

Try them out!



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

I cannot believe our summer has gone by this fast and that it's already over. We've traveled all over the country, worn out our swimsuits and just have had so much fun!

A few days ago we went to see Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Every time the girls watch A Dolphin Tale, they get so excited and want to see Winter.  This time, I realized that the only day we had left before school started, was the next day! So I booked a hotel, bought the tickets and we headed out the next morning!

On our way!

It was super hot, but the girls really had a nice time. My 8 year old loved it the most, because she really liked listening to the workers there when they gave their talks. I thought it was very interesting too! The little girls liked looking at the animals as well as the trolley ride over to the second building, where they have a building dedicated to the movie, with set pieces, little known-facts, and a hurricane re-enactment (that honestly really scared the little girls but was just sort of wobbly and windy to me).


Winter's gel that keeps her tail on

Jolley Trolley ride to A Dolphin Tale Adventure
Hanging at the Dolphin Tale Adventure
I spy a dolphin!

Afterwards, we stopped at the grocery store to get some food, then I asked Google to bring me to the closet public beach.

Can I just say that I love Google? It took me past the busy, loud, crowded pier area of Clearwater to this awesome public park, where there was plenty of parking, no crowds, and tons of quiet beach time.



As well as an awesome sunset.


Gorgeous, right?!  It was amazing!  

And then as we were leaving, we saw fireworks being shot off. Perfect end to an awesome day.

Here's to hoping the school year is just as peaceful.

Thanks for reading!

Patricia

New Recipes to try!

I tried some new recipes today and I thought I would share them with you all because they turned out pretty good!

Carrot Applesauce Muffins



 I printed this one out awhile ago and was just waiting for the right time to try it, and today was the day!

Totally yum! And only my middle daughter didn't like them ("I don't like the big carrots in there"), so it was a win in my book. There's actually only 2 of the dozen left--and I just made them this afternoon. I used matchstick carrots that I chopped up a little finer, so next time I will try actually grating the carrots as the recipe suggested. They have a nice warm cinnamon-y flavor too. Mmmm.

Click here for the recipe from 100 days of real food. 

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower



I also tried making this recipe for Garlic Mashed Cauliflower from Allrecipes.com.

I thought it was pretty good (still tasted like cauliflower!) but my husband and I both liked it. I'd definitely recommend it for the more adventurous tasters in your house!

Give them a try and let me know what you think!  I'm always looking for new recipes to try, especially muffins. They are such a good grab and go treat, perfect for us since we're always on the go!

Thanks for reading!

Patricia

Saturday, August 15, 2015

5th Golden Birthday Party Details!

Last weekend my middle girl, Marie, turned the big 5! Since she turned 5 on the 5th, we had a very special golden birthday party for her. For those of you that have never heard of of a golden birthday, it's when you age is the same as the day you were born. (1 on the first, 10 on the 10th, etc) Some of our friends have heard about it, but many have not! 

Isn't it funny when something that you've grown up with, just isn't common everywhere? It's a funny feeling. Makes my world feel a little bigger. 

On to the party!

Here are some party details, in case you're wanting to throw a "golden birthday" too, or just wonder what kind of food is good to serve (mine was super awesome, if I do say so myself.)

Decorations: 
Gold spray-painted wooden 5 (picked up at JoAnn's)
fresh flowers in a vase wrapped with gold tissue paper (picked up at Target)
gold spray-painted horses (taken from our toys; we have a lot of horses!)
black paper roll with gold glitter tape (picked up at target; on the food table)
chalkboard banner with "Golden" written in chalk (from Target too)
Fringe Tissue Paper Background with homemade "Happy Birthday" Pennant Banner (I'm going to do another post about how I made this--see it below!)


Cake:
2 boxes of vanilla cake mix made into cupcakes, mini cupcakes and a heart-shaped cake
My mom used to decorate wedding cakes, so we used 2 cans of store-bought frosting, gold sprinkles, and a decorating kit to make them pretty. 

Games:
We played Pin the Horn on the Unicorn and the kids had a lot of fun with it! Click the link and check it out! A cheap, easy game and it came in 2 days with my Amazon Prine; I couldn't have asked for an easier game. The kids swam in the pool for most of the party so I only did one game.  Those that didn't want to swim could play in our playroom.


Food:
Baked Ziti (see below for recipe)

Fruit Bar:
Watermelon
Blueberries
Green Grapes
Apples (bought already cut up)
Cantaloupe
Strawberries

Carrots
Cherry Tomatoes

Potato Chips
Tortilla Chips
Salsa
Cheese Dip
Spinach Dip

Drinks:
Water Bottles
Juice Boxes

I picked up most of the food at Sam's club, it was perfect that they already came in a big size! (and bonus: there were leftovers for days!) The 3 dips came in a 3 pack, so that was easy too. 

Plates were gold-striped plates mixed with regular white plates.
Napkins were solid gold mixed in with plain white. 
I purchased the napkins all at Target, and the plain white ones were so much cheaper than the pretty gold ones, so I just mixed them together! 
I put a bunch of plastic forks in a blue Mason jar that I topped with some of the gold glitter ribbon. I picked up the jar at an antique store while shopping in Minnesota this summer, it's a joy sparker for me!


Every party that we have, I always wonder about what food to serve. The one dish that has always been a clear winner is the Baked Ziti.  I found the recipe a few years ago on allrecipes.com, and it's been our favorite since then!  Here's the recipe:

Baked Ziti II
Recipe By:BUCHKO, found on Allrecipes.com, modified slightly
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
  • 32 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Trust me, it's amazing! And it tastes even better the next day. 

Gift Bags:
I wrapped a bunch of candy in gold tulle circles (I got mine at JoAnn's) and put them in a basket that I spray-painted gold. Easy! 

Party time! See the cute fringe background? 
After opening all the presents, she immediately started coloring this backpack. Love her!
So, the party turned out awesome! We had a bunch of kids and parents swimming and then we had cake and presents and then everyone left! Seriously, everyone cleared out and the girls had the rest of the afternoon to play with all the presents. After a couple hours of serious playtime, and some clean-up, we all went to the movies to see Shaun the Sheep. It was so funny! If it's playing nearby, definitely go see it! We all enjoyed it, even my mom who was visiting.

It was a great day!

~Patricia

Day Trip to the Beach

Saturday. Family Day.

I started out Saturday morning by taking our 8 year old to Irish dance lessons. (I'm kinda jealous that I'm not doing Irish dance lessons, shhh.) She was the only one in class today, but she did really, really well; so proud of her!

The hubs and I decided that we'd take the kids to the beach this afternoon. Last week I took the girls with my mom and we had the best time. M is totally into nature and wanted to bring her goggles and look in the water too.  Hubs is really good at looking for sand fleas in the water, and we even found a few sand dollars too. Last week we found over 20!

On our way to the beach...notice the rain on the van windows....
We had tacos from the best little taqueria in town while waiting for the rain to stop. Yummm!

We beat the rain, but the dark clouds are still over there.

Searching for sand fleas!

Nature girl (notice the goggles!)

Not long after we were out in the water, it started storming and lightning again way out on the water, so we headed in to the restaurant (part of a hotel) that was nearby. We got some grub and then swam in the hotel's pool. We saw the same girls in the pool that we had met at the beach; they were so sweet!  One of the girls asked me if I "lived here", which of course I said yes. She then asked me my hotel room number, to which I answered, "No, I live here." And she seemed really confused. It was kinda cute. 

But locals go to the beach too. And we know better than to swim when there's lightning out on the water! Last year I had to convince one of our extended family members not to swim when there was a storm thisclose to the beach. People have gotten hit by lightning and died, y'all. Not worth it!

And now it's off to bed, because the weekend's not even over yet!

~Patricia


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Festive, Easy, Fourth of July Skirts

Tonight I finished 3 skirts in 3 hours! (Less if you count that break for checking Facebook). I used an awesome tutorial for a simple skirt from Dana Made It, and it couldn't have been easier! I'll walk you through some basic steps, but head over to her site for the low-down on how to make an easy skirt in less than an hour!


My girls and I switched up our playroom yesterday, and moved my sewing stuff into the room, and moved about half of their toys out (and into a friend's garage sale---yes!). Since 4th of July is next week, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out my new space and finally put this fabric to use (it's probably from last year, not gonna lie). 

So festive! 


I'm pretty sure I bought this as a remnant, and I had just enough for 2 skirts for the big girls!

And (so proud of myself for this), I actually ironed and
added little touches like the top-stitching on the top of the elastic casing.

Double stitching on the hem (you can see where I started using up a bobbin of white thread here!).

After I finished those 2 skirts, I found this starry fabric quarter and decided to make a little skirt for my little daughter. She's 2 and I cut the fabric quarter the long way, so that I'd have a little extra length for her. 


After cutting 2 equal pieces with a pinking shears, sew together to form a large tube and press out your seams. (and I used my iron this time around too!)


I then ironed the bottom hem up a little bit.


I then used some leftover bias tape for the bottom hem.


To make the upper casing for the elastic, I first ironed down the top a small amount (like I did with the bottom already), then ironed down enough to cover my elastic. I ironed down about an inch because I used 3/4" non-roll elastic for this project. For the 2 skirts up top, I used 1" elastic.  Don't forget to leave a space in your casing so that you can pull the elastic through! 



Sewing the bottom of the casing.
 

Sewing the top of the casing.
Finally, I used a safety pin to pull the elastic through the casing.  I left it open for now, since I will measure the skirts on my daughters tomorrow, and then finish the skirts by sewing the elastic together and sewing the casings shut. Easy, peasy! 


And, it always helps to have a hot mug of tea to keep you company on late nights!  This is my new favorite mug, that I found while cleaning my house. It was a gift from a good friend, and the verse always reminds me of her! 

One of these days I'll have to do a post about my latest (and I think last) organizational method, the Konmari Method. I have gotten rid of so much junk that was just cluttering up my house; it's been amazing! 



Thanks for reading! Follow along to see the big reveal tomorrow and for other fun crafts and ideas! You can enter your email (look in the right sidebar on desktop) or "like" me (and a few posts) on Facebook

~Patricia

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Peru!! Restaurant Reviews and a whole lotta ocean!


Today I wanted to share with you photos and restaurant reviews from our recent trip to Lima, Peru!

My husband and I, his mom, a single friend and another couple all went together. We had the BEST time! I definitely would go back, and if you ever get the chance to go to Lima--take it! We literally ate our way through Lima (it probably took me a week to recover from all the food), and it was delicious.

We arrived Thursday night (really late), and after checking into Hotel Estelar and having Pisco Sours (because that's what you drink in Lima, obviously!), we all retired to our rooms, ready to check out the city in the morning.

Friday: The hotel breakfast was great, as was the view! Also, don't get too close to the window; there are no screens. Anywhere. And no bugs actually, which made the lack of screens ok. 

That's right friends: no screens on the 21st floor.

For Friday's lunch we went to a cute little neighborhood place called Mama Olla after we explored the Miraflores neighborhood a bit. We walked from our hotel all the way down to view the ocean at an upscale shopping mall. I bought a cute set of fake pearl earrings, because I felt naked as I had left all of my real jewelry at home (you can never be too careful while traveling, but I felt really safe in Miraflores).  After all that walking, Mama Olla was great. The food was yummy and the server, Angel, was super sweet and helpful.  Sure he tried to sway us to order the most expensive items on the menu, but with the exchange rate, even those weren't that pricey. 



Friday night we went to the amazing restaurant Astrid y Gaston. For a 30 course tasting menu. Which changes every 6 months, including the paint colors and decor. It was amazing. Seriously. There were only a few items that I didn't like, and I really didn't feel like it was too much food either. It does take a really long time to eat that many courses, but it's an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

One of the amazing, crazy dishes at Astrid y Gaston. It's actually orange cake with a sugar candy that looks like a cracked egg! 
The kitchen, where the magic happens.
Above the kitchen: We are free, and may we always be.

Saturday, we walked off some of that food from the night before at the Indian Market. The weather was perfect the entire time we were there, 70 degrees and pleasant. The word is that it doesn't rain much at all in Lima. We bought a couple of touristy souvenirs at the Indian Market, like an alpaca blanket, Peruvian nativity set, bracelets and bags for the girls, and of course, some paintings. I also took my photo in front of a fake Machu Picchu, because hey, faking it is a lot easier than hiking it. Lol



Saturday afternoon we booked a cooking class with a local guide, which turned out to the be most memorable part of our vacation. The guide, Paula, was so friendly! 

We first went to the local spice market, where she showed us some of the local fruits and where the locals shop for food.  If they sold cherimoya here in the US, I would buy it everyday. It's better than ice cream. Seriously. So. Good. 

After that we rode the bus back to her house.  The bus was super crowded (and surprisingly not stinky at all!). At one point I wasn't even holding on. I was so squished that I just let the crowd of people hold me up while riding along. And I have to admit, I was giggling to myself the whole time. It's pretty funny to be the foreigner on a Peruvian bus, something about the absurdity of being squished into a bunch of strangers on a fast-moving bus made me laugh. 

At Paula's house, we met her mother, an inviting women that was so sweet, even though she didn't speak English. She taught us to make causa (a cold potato appetizer) and ceviche. They were both so good! Paula showed us the secret to making a great Pisco Sour: the order in which you add the ingredients is important and don't let your ice cubes melt.  This is the site where we booked the tour, if you ever get to Lima and want to do it. 

Causa y Ceviche

Sunday a few of us went exploring and walked all the way from our hotel to the beach. The beach in Lima is basically a bit of dirt and a whole lot of rocks.  It's super beautiful, as you can see:

I could have spent hours just staring at the ocean, but there really isn't any place to sit, except on the rocks.
We walked down a huge hill cliff to get there:
Lima is up on a cliff, overlooking the ocean. We walked down the entire cliff on a path, it actually wasn't that bad.
We also passed a surfing competition (which inspired me to want to try surfing-more on that later), so we ended up walking the beach and then getting some snacks at La Rosa Nautica. It's on a cute boardwalk, with a few shops, and has a great view of the ocean.  The shops, oddly enough, were pricing everything in US dollars (apparently it's a tourist destination), but the food was good and the view was better. The waves are just so pretty! 

Me, after lunch at La Rosa Nautica.
And the walk back up. Easier after a few pisco sours.
That night we had dinner at Huaca Pucllana, a name we could never quite pronounce, but somehow everyone knew what we were saying. We tried a bunch of different foods, and it was all really good!  I was really stuffed from the late afternoon snacks, so I didn't really enjoy it, but I sampled a few things here and there and liked it.  We sat outside on their patio, next to the ruins, which date from 200 AD to 700 AD.  We got to view them a little that night, but the tours were already closed. We actually tried to come back on Tuesday to visit, but that's the one day that they are closed. (Can't say we didn't try to sneak in a little history on our foodie trip, lol.)


Want to see more of our fabulous trip?  Stay tuned! I'm going to save the rest of the restaurant reviews (Central, Rafael and Cala) for another post, coming soon!  And sorry if everything is sounding so yummy, it was!!

~Patricia

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