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

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Down The Rabbit Hole

Hello!  I’m back to share with more Wonderland fun, food, and goodies from my daughter’s Mad Hatter Tea Party.  Did you see the post last week featuring the outdoor party decor?

Today let’s talk about the table scape.  The design goal?  Emulate that crazy table setting you see in Alice In Wonderland. And that requires A LOT of stuff.  I started with an embroidered white table cloth that was my grandmothers and used a smaller pink satin quilted blanket on top of that. Yes, you read that right, I said blanket. Who says you can’t use blankets on a table? If I hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t have known! Down the center of the table is a green moss table runner from the floral department of Michaels.

I added a couple of bright colored flower arrangements in oversized mason jars and tied with a heart themed ribbon.  Inside the mason jar (to hide the flower stems) is green Easter grass from Pier 1 Imports It looks like real grass!

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And then came the plethora of tea pots, tea cups, saucers and plates.  How do you get all this stuff without breaking the bank?  Garage sales, antique shops and second hand stores are great places to start.  There’s also no shame in borrowing from friends and family.  That’s how I came up with a variety of teapots.  The cute white bunny votive candleholders, flower napkin rings and cloth napkins were all great finds at Pier 1 Imports. The chargers are from Michael’s and came in pink, turquoise, white lace and platinum. I bought them all! The variety of shapes and sizes were perfect for stacking on top of each other. I added the saucers and teacups and the table was really starting to come together.

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Michael’s had these great glass vials, that I filled with Mike n Ikes and “Eat Me” tags.  As part of the table decor and parting gifts, I made framed place cards for all the guests.  The girls really loved that part.  They felt special having their own special place to sit and pretty frame to take home.
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On the light fixture above the table I hung a variety of pink tissue pom-poms, glittered heart ornaments and a playing card garland that I had made with ribbon and a deck of cards.

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Ok, so now for the food. Lunch was provided, which included turkey sandwiches, butterfly and heart shaped watermelon pieces (psst…use cookie cutters!), heart shaped strawberries and grape caterpillars.  Thank you Pinterest for that fabulous idea!  See the grape caterpillars here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/124060164711248365/  I forgot to get a photo of mine before they were all gobbled up.  They were very popular.  When I made mine, I used small candy eyes which can be found in the cake decorating aisle and stuck them on the grape with white frosting.

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Then there was the rice crispie treat playing card soldiers, Cheshire cats tails compliments of  @treatsbytaryn, Alice Wonderland theme cookies from @thetalentedcookieco and colorful sour candy kabobs form @sweetsindeed.  They were all so beautiful and tasted really yummy!

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I made red velvet cupcakes, topped with cream cheese frosting and giant felt roses displayed around a mason jar of heart ornaments and an amazing top hat from Mini Top Hat Boutique.

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I had a blast planning and decorating for this party.  We truly fell down the rabbit hole into Wonderland that day, ate yummy treats, had some great laughs, and fun times celebrating with my daughter.  Wonderful memories were made that day, and that makes it all worth it.

 

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

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!

A Night in New Orleans

I was pretty lucky this past weekend…I got to spend 2 whole nights in New Orleans! I was going for a concert, but I’ll take any opportunity there to eat, drink, and eat some more. (Thanks mom for the early birthday present!!) Unfortunately 2 days isn’t enough to go to all of my favorite places. I settled for a couple and the rest were more out of convenience, but it was still a great trip!

Our first mission was day drinking but avoiding Bourbon Street. So we went to Poydras and settled on Happy’s Irish Pub then Walk-Ons once we needed some food. Both have a decent beer selection and the cheese fries from Walk-Ons are pretty yummy. So I had a couple of Angry Orchards and a Blue Moon.

Next up was dinner. I’m a fan of any John Besh restaurant, so we headed to Lüke. The best time to go there is during the winter months when oysters are in season, but the food was still amazing as always. I wasn’t too hungry so I went with corn and crab bisque (delicious!) and the Salad Lüke. Both were great choices. Cocktail wise I started with a French 75 then ended with Prosecco.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel and stopped at the Sazerac Bar inside the beautiful Roosevelt Hotel. And of course we ordered Sazeracs!

Thanks to my alcohol consumption the previous day I wasn’t in the best shape Sunday morning. But I put my big girl pants on and kept going. I skipped breakfast and by lunch I was starving!! After walking around for a bit and not being able to decide where to go (go figure) we stumbled upon a small restaurant called Saint Lawrence on North Peters. I’ve probably passed this place tons of times while in NOLA and just never noticed it. But it’s worth the stop. I ordered the Smothered and Covered; house cut fries smothered in Tasso-chicken gravy with melted sharp cheddar! It was amazing and just what my stomach needed at that point. They also have a great craft beer selection and make a frozen Pimm’s Cup daiquiri. Not to mention their staff was really friendly which is always a plus.

Next was rest time! I needed the nap, but the concert was later on and we knew we’d need to eat an early dinner. The rain was starting so we decided to eat in the hotel. We were at the Hyatt Regency and they have quite a few restaurant options. We went with Vitascope Hall. It is basically a nicer version of a sports bar with a good variety of food. They have seafood, burgers, po-boys, and even a full sushi menu. I wanted something lighter and went with a spicy tuna roll and cucumber salad. I decided to lay off the alcohol so I could last through the concert.

The concert was AMAZING! Deftones and Incubus and neither disappointed. It was super hot and it rained and I had to stand in a giant crowd for 6 hours…but worth it!!

I had planned to drive straight home the next morning, but when you’re in NOLA you HAVE to stop at Sucré. Trust me! You will not be disappointed. Their chocolates are to die for. Any of their desserts are amazing. But you must get their macarons. They have their original flavors like chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, hazelnut, and few more; but they also have seasonal flavors! My favorite are the king cake ones, but since it’s not Mardi Gras I settled for their summer ones. This summer it’s apple pie, watermelon, blackberry lemon, and peaches & cream. Apple pie was definitely my favorite. And after spending more money on macarons than I did for any one meal in two days, I needed to get out of there!!

Overall it was a great trip. Next time I go I’ll be sure to plan my meals a bit better and try some new places…but I’ll survive! I have my big box of macarons to hold me over.

First beer of the trip at Happy’s

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Lüke- corn and crab bisque, French 75, Prosecco

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Sazerac Bar

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Smothered and Covered from Saint Lawrence

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Vitascope Hall’s spicy tuna roll and cucumber salad

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Way too many macarons from Sucre

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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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