Aloha Summer Neighborhood Luau

Have you ever noticed that during the summertime is when you tend to get new neighbors? It’s the prime time to move if you’ve got kids.  That way, things get settled in before a new school year begins. We had a few families move in this summer and my friend and I thought it would be fun to have a Neighborhood Luau. The perfect theme party for the end of summer and a fun way to get to know your neighbor.

I think the best part of a Luau is the food.

The Menu:

Pulled Pork Sliders, Cole Slaw, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Hawaiian Fried Rice Fruit, Pina Colada cupcakes, and Volcano Cakes.

Signature Drink: Coconut Margarita

My assignments were the Meatballs, party décor, and desserts.  The party decor I found at Party City.  http://www.partycity.com/product/hibiscus+party+theme.do?refType=&from=Search&navSet=hawaiian%20party&bypass_redirect=1

Meatball Recipe was delish! https://www.pinterest.com/pin/124060164712417663/

I made the sauce the night before and marinated about 4 lbs. of frozen meatballs (from Costco) in it overnight in the refrigerator. Popped those babies in the crockpot a few hours before the party on low and Oh….my….meatballs….they were ah-mazing! Do I need to even mention there weren’t any leftovers?? Not a one.

The Pina Colada cupcakes recipe: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/124060164712417620/

The only thing I modified in the recipe, is I cut the oil back to ½ cup and I used Rum (as suggested) in the frosting instead of milk.  I love a good presentation when it comes to party food. So I dressed these cupcakes up so they were Luau theme. Time to get crafty, I really can’t help myself!

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Heidi Swapp has the cutest Minc cupcake kit at Michael’s. Gold, turquoise and bright pink foil and K & Company Hawaii stickers was the color scheme I needed

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The Minc Machine is the best when it comes to foiling projects. It’s basically a fancy laminator. So if you have a laminator, I’ve heard that works with the Minc products also.  There’s three basic steps to foiling.

Place the items to be foiled in the laminator sleeve.

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Lay the foil over the paper and feed the sleeve into the machine.

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When the sleeve comes out of the Minc, pull the foil sheet off and viola!  Beautifully foiled items.!!

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I foiled the cupcake flags to coordinate with the wrappers, and placed a Hawaiian theme sticker on each flag.

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Volcano Cakes….here’s where I cheated. I say cheated because I’m a big fan of making things from scratch. But…the occasional cheat is ok… and this one was with William Sonoma’s Devils Food Bundt Cake Mix. Now that is worth every penny. I baked the cakes using a the William Sonoma Pop Over pan and baked the cakes for 20 minutes. Let them cool completely on a wire rack and before removing the cakes from the pan, use a serrated knife to cut the tops off so that the bottoms of the cakes will be flat.

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The hot lava is dark chocolate, orange and red candy melts. The dark chocolate layer is first. For that I melted a 90% Lindt dark chocolate bar with a Hershey’s Special Dark bar and spooned the chocolate over the top of the cakes so that it would run down the sides. Then put those in the refrigerator so that the chocolate will harden quickly. Then using red candy melts, do the same thing over the top of the dark chocolate. Put them in the refrigerator again to cool. Last step, melt orange candy melts and spoon over the red and dark chocolate. Viola! You’ve got what looks like hot lava oozing out the top of the cakes.

These look to good to eat you say?  Oh no way!  No morsel was left behind…I love a good dessert and these two recipes are keepers for sure.

The Luau itself was a big hit also. Quite a few guests attended and a good time was had by all.  The best thing?  We now know who lives next door and hope to have more get togethers soon 🙂

Apryl

@adh_j

Part Three Bento Lunches: What to Pack 

So you have read my previous post and made a pledge to pack healthy lunches this year. (You can make an official pledge at Power Your Lunchbox for coupons, free printables and prizes!) You have purchased an awesome lunchbox and maybe some fun tools to use but now you are feeling a little lost about what to put in them (Check out my lunchbox tools post here) No worries, I have composed for you a list of my go to foods for lunches!

 Proteins

  • Deli meats
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned chicken
  • Meatballs (I always have a bag of frozen meatballs on hand)
  • Hard boiled eggs or egg salad
  • Falafel (I get these frozen at Trader Joe’s)
  • Sunbutter (or nut butter if your school allows it.)
  • Sausage links or patties
  • Veggie burgers
  • Hummus

Grains

  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Pasta salad (Have you seen the adorable shaped pastas that World Market carries?!)
  • Pita
  • Whole grain bread
  • Wraps
  • Bagel thins
  • Plantain chips
  • Crackers: my favorites are Annie’s Homegrown, Special K multigrain, Trader Joe’s Edamame, pita chips and pretzel thins
  • Popcorn
  • Cereal

Dairy

  • All natural sliced cheese (great for cutting into shapes!)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Babybel cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

Vegetables (Raw)

  • Carrots
  • Bell Peppers and mini sweets
  • Celery
  • Green beans
  • Snap peas
  • Jicama
  • Lettuces
  • Tomatoes (grape and cherry)
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini and yellow squash

Vegetables (cooked) 

  • Carrots*
  • Bell peppers*
  • Green beans*
  • Peas*
  • Corn*
  • Edamame*
  • Succotash*
  • Butternut and acorn squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Broccoli*
  • Cauliflower*
  • Greens (Kale, collard, mustard)
  • Dr Praeger’s broccoli and spinach little bites (Whole Foods)

*I keep bags of these veggies frozen at all times and just pack a serving as I need them. I often just let them defrost and serve without heating, especially corn and peas!


Fruit (fresh)

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Clementines or tangerines
  • Plums, pluots, plumcots
  • Melons
  • Berries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes

Fruit (frozen)

  • Berries*
  • Peaches
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple

*Frozen berries work great to mix in with yogurt or to make a smoothie but do not hold up in the defrosting process to serve as your main fruit!

Fruit (canned in 100% juice) 

  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Apricots

Treats

  • Cookies: my favorites are School house cookies and yogurt shaped stars from Trader Joe’s, Annie’s Homegrown animal crackers and Bitsy’s Brain Food Alphabet cookies (found at Target and Kroger)
  • Cookie butter (Trader Joe’s)
  • Dips: ranch, ketchup, BBQ sauce
  • Chocolate chips
  • Dried fruits

Most often when people say they can’t pack bento lunches they site two main reasons.

  1. It wastes food. The only food I waste is the crusts of bread. As do millions of moms who cut the crusts off of their children’s sandwiches! But you could even save these and make bread crumbs from them. When I cut cheese and vegetables I most often put those leftovers in my own lunch for the next day. You could easily use veggies for soups or stock and save cheese to top casseroles.
  2. It costs too much. I can just about guarantee that the lunch I packed is cheaper than buying a lunch able. And certainly healthier. However, one thing to keep in mind when you shop. Always buy in season! You will pretty much never see me pack peaches in the middle of winter unless they are frozen. Also buy small quantities of items. Yes, I may pack 3 fruits for my daughter each day between breakfast, lunch and a snack. However, when I buy bananas I only buy 3-4 at a time for the week and 1-2 apples and pack her a quarter on an apple and take the rest for myself.

What are some of your go to lunch items that you pack for yourself or your kids??? I would love to add to my own collection!

Happy Packing and come check me out on Instagram @hollyamethyst for more lunch ideas and come back here soon for some fun holiday lunch ideas!

Holly

We’ve all gone Mad

Mad Hatter Tea party that is….

The truth of the matter, my husband and I LOVE parties and it’s no surprise that we’ve passed that on to our little ones! When it came time for my oldest daughter’s 8th birthday she was dead set on having a Mad Hatter Tea party straight out of Wonderland itself.

Of course, my mind was reeling with all the creative possibilities. I wanted our house to BE Wonderland.  I had my work cut out for me, let me tell you.  My plan was to have the tea party table emulate that you see in the movie.

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But not only that, when the party guests arrived, I wanted them to have the feel that they were entering Wonderland. So, I came up with some props.

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Metal flowers from Hobby Lobby I stuck in the grass along the front walkway.

The giant toadstool is made of a metal toilet paper stand covered with paper, red umbrella and white spots cut out of paper. I placed ceramic toadstools bought from Hobby Lobby on the ground also. On top of the “umbrella” toadstool is an abstract caterpillar made from blue tissue pom poms. I tied the pom poms together and then laid them on the umbrella. (I should’ve had the smoke machine going) but that didn’t come to fruition…couldn’t find the darn thing in the garage…lol.

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One thing I definitely wanted as part of the decor was playing card soldiers. This was made with a piece of white poster board and red cardstock. I chose hearts, because quite frankly they were the easiest shape to cut out.  The numbers were that of my daughter’s birthday.

The goody bags I displayed in the entry way. They are silver glittered party bags from Target and the red heart tissue paper is also from Target. The “Take Me” tags was an image I found online with Google and had printed in color and hand cut them out and tied them on with a thin ribbon.

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As you can see I really like to get into details when I’m party planning.  There is much much more to see so stay tuned for more when I share how to design the table scape and buffet of treats.

It’s Always Tea Time!

Apryl

@adh_j

Fig Bruschetta 

When I used to think of August only hot, sticky days with a longing for a Pumpkin Spice Latte would come to mind. Until I discovered a love of fresh figs. My co-worker had a fig tree and would bring them in for me at work. The first time she brought them I had no idea what to do with them. She suggested I make a version of this delicious bruschetta. I fell in love after that. It is sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy all at the same time. Truly just one of the most decadent but simple appetizers you can make.

Sadly, her tree did not make it through a harsh winter a few years ago and now every August I am left searching for decently priced figs.  Luckily, I have been able to find good deals at our farmer’s markets and Trader Joe’s. I am also patiently awaiting for my own little fig tree to grow from a cutting that same co-worker was able to grow from her old tree. (I work with some of the best people!)

If you have never had a fig before, give this bruschetta a try and see what you think!

  • 1 French baguette
  • One container of either blue, goat or feta cheese
  • Fresh figs
  • Honey
  • Coarse sea salt

Set oven to 350 degrees and slice baguette on a bias. Cover with cheese of your choice (my favorite is blue). Remove stems and halve your figs, slice them so they will fan out. Place bread in oven for about 5 minutes, just long enough for cheese to begin to melt.


Remove bread from the oven and switch oven to high broiler. Place one half of a fig on each slice of bread. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sea salt. Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes, keeping your eye on them to prevent burning. Remove and try not to eat an entire baguette of bread. 

 

I hope you enjoy this delicious treat! What is your favorite way to eat figs??

-Holly (@hollyamethyst)

Fall Fashion

As we put away our shorts and sun hats and say farewell to the Summer, we welcome Fall! A new season brings new opportunities, new weather, and let’s not forget about the NEW clothing trends! Because yes, even in California the weather gets a bit chillier come Season change!

Small shops are beginning to showcase their Fall/Winter lines with us and I can’t wait to share a few of my favorites with YOU all! From comfy and cute to warm and unique, here is a list and sneak peek into a few shops’ Fall/Winter lines! This will give you an idea on where to get the ‘it’ clothing for your little’s this coming season! Take notes, there may be discount codes involved!

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This shop always has stood out to me with its fun and quirky designs, and their Fall/Winter line is NO exception! I’m so excited to see some Halloween movie inspired pieces in this shop’s Fall 2015 drop! Check out what they have to offer for our kiddo’s this Fall season! Use code: FIFTEEN for 15% off!

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Chazing Arrows
This particular shop I know by their oh-so comfy harem shorts and exciting pattern designs, BUT that is not all they offer! They have pulled out all of the stops and also offering leggings, shirts, rompers, and more! Their pieces are at the top of my list for comfort and quality alike! This is just a taste of what they will have to offer this coming season! Use code: FREESHIP15 for FREE shipping valid until 8/23!
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Radical Kid Co.

I first knew this shop from the amazing infinity scarves they offer, but they have SOO much more now! I’m happy to see a shop come out with stylish and super comfortable sweats! These are a definite necessity for the up and coming Fall season! Check them out and use code: INSTAGRAM for 10% off!

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Now that you have read into and seen a small glimpse into each shops Fall/Winter collection, you have but one thing left to do- SHOP! Happy shopping friends!

IG FAV @tylerhuan

Well, it’s time for another IG FAV. This time we bring to you one of my top picks of ALL TIMES… Mr. Tyler all the way from Malaysia! Here’s what his momma, Haze, has to say about this little fashion star and while we’re at it, we’ll share a few of our fav photos of him with you….

My name is Haze and I am Tyler mama , we are from sunny island Penang Malaysia . Tyler is 21 months old turn 2 in few months time , can’t believe my baby soon to be TWO, how time fly without I am realize it . I am a stay at home mom , basically I am work for my little boss Tyler , 24 hour , 7 day per weeks. I am fully enjoys every single moment with him. Tyler is a happy , cheerful and active baby , he on the move most of the time , he love outdoor activities. Tyler help mama feed and walk the dogs daily . Tyler love his furry friend , he play with them most of the time . 

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IG Fav @acolorfulreality

Another IG Fav.. Lux… here’s what her momma has to say about her:
This is Lux- She turned two this past June and is proud of it. Her biggest news right now is that she is going to be a big sister, any day now! Two spunky little kiddos running around is a dream come true for us! We’re excited to see if her baby is a brother or sister. Lux loves to play outside and pick out leaves, rocks, and sticks that she can add to her never ending collection. She really appreciates the little things in life and relishes in the colors and smells that she sees outside. She is an avid jumper and gets great height on a trampoline and off it. She loves playing pretend, especially with her baby dolls and stuffed animals. They come alive and do everything with her when we’re home! She’s super artsy-something momma can’t relate to, but enjoys watching her creativity grow as she is coloring, drawing, forming play doh figures, and painting. Her favorite place to go is the waterpark or any outdoor park that she’s with her daddy…they’re the best of friends and she can’t get enough of his teasing or chasing. Lux has been working with shops as a brand rep since she was 10 months old. Her trademark piggies and urban trend has given us the privilege to work with over 60 shops and kids boutiques.  Lux is an animal lover…she especially has a thing for kittens, puppies, horses, and sea creatures. Feel free to follow us over at @acolorfulreality and follow our journey of Lux and her little brother or sister as we explore life as a family of four!

And for a few images of the diva:

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