Photo Gallery Walls

I love photos — really, really love them! I don’t have the wall space I wish I had for displaying them but I do find so many inspirational photo walls that I wish I could make happen in my home. I thought I’d share them with you. Perhaps you will be inspired to create your own photo gallery? If you have a fun wall already created, please share. I’d love to see it!

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Source — ME! This is my own wall

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There you have it, a little photo wall inspiration. Oh, and in the time it took me to complete this lil’ post — I baked a delicious Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll Cake. Yes, it is Paula Dean style with butter overload but it’s a breakfast treat for the summer heat {I feel less guilty when I make jokes!} In all reality, I just wanted to be popular with my 6 almost 7 year old and this is one way to his heart.

A Little Slice of American Pie

Yep — I’m a mantel changer but I have never done a 4th of July inspired mantel. I decided this was the year. After finding several fun printables on Pinterest, I felt inspired. This is what I came up with using several items I had on hand as well as a couple of new buys.

Here is what I used and the sources if applicable:

  • Seasonal Wreath – Jo-Ann Fabric - I wanted this one for awhile and I think I finally got it on sale for $14.99 from $39.99
  • America Banner – my own creation using burlap, red paint, stencils and twine to connect the squares.
  • #4 –  Steinmart  - $14.99 {I can reuse it as we are a family of ’4′}
  • Jar with beans – I picked up 3 bags of beans for around $6, the star is something old from Michaels
  • Red wooden star – Something old, I’ve had this for many years.
  • Red, white and blue tart warmer – Another oldie
  • Photo frame — another oldie that I held on too. I love the picture of our family of 4 from July 4th, 2010.
  • Framed printable – The Scrap Shoppe offers this free printable. I used a white frame with blue matting that I actually had on hand.
  • Red candle – Target

There you have it — My 1st ever 4th of July mantel which I am also calling, A Little Slice of American Pie.

I linked up to a summer mantel link party over at The Lettered Cottage — check it out and be prepared to be inspired :)



Farmers Markets 2012

I love Farmers Markets and besides finding fresh fruits and vegetables, I also love all of the other goodies that can be found. A few weeks back, at our local market, I found a crepe booth. Yum! I love crepes. We also have a local bakery and Z Pie even has a booth. I don’t know if you have ever had Z Pie. They are these delicious little pot pies in several flavor combinations. They even have desert pies. But … back to the Farmers Market ;) A lot of the same spots host Farmers Markets weekly but a few local places have changed this year. Briggs Ranch is no longer offering a Farmers Market on Friday mornings but now Palladio in Folsom has one on Thursdays from 8-1 in front of Whole Foods Market.

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Here are links for local Farmers Markets for the 2012 season {most markets run from June – October}. Check sites for exact dates.

  • For El Dorado County Markets, click here.
  • For Sacramento, click here.
  • Foothill Farmers Markets is mostly listings for Placer County. Click here for those locations.
  • Davis offers a year round market, click here for times and locations.
Local Harvest is a great resource for Farmers Markets in your area – you can search by zip code. You can also find CSA’s, events and farms.
Now — if my garden starts producing, that will be a whole other post ;)
Happy Weekend friends!


Fun Places for Kids

Ah Summer — it’s upon us and many of us are looking for fun activities & vacations. Well, I know I’d personally love to go to Hawaii. Buuuuuuuuut, that is not in the cards for us {hello backyard redo!!}. So instead of one big, pricey trip how about several small, less expensive trips or even stay local for the day? There was a recent article in the SF Gate about 20 places every California kid should see. Click here for that information.

Some other fun ideas.

Take a hike – yes, really! We have so many beautiful places in Northern California to explore on foot. Click here for a directory of trails. Slack Packer also has a wealth of resources. Check them out here.

Jump in – check out Swimming Holes of Northern California by clicking here. Sac Magazine also shared an article last summer with a few local spots, click here to read that.

Get out of town –  How about a day trip? Here in EDH, we are situated between Lake Tahoe and the Bay Area. We could take off either way and in less then 2 hours, be at so many destinations. A few ideas?

  • Six Flags offers amusement for the whole family.
  • Angel Island is a pretty place and the ferry ride there makes it is that much more fun for the kids. You could make a day of it and then head into Sausalito for some dinner.
  • Take a ride on a paddlewheeler in Tahoe. MS Dixi II and Tahoe Queen offer guided trips along the majestic blue waters of Lake Tahoe.
  • You could also head to Amador or Calavares County for a tour of an old mine or cavern. Click here for details and locations.
  • If you are looking for an adventure, take the short drive to Santa Rosa and take part in a Safari at Safari West. My son actually did this with my sister and had a blast.
  • Enjoy a breathtaking view of Lake Tahoe by riding the gondolas at Heavenly.
  • Squaw Valley  offers activities and plenty of gorgeous scenery in the crisp mountain air. Check out their site for what to do while visiting.
  • Head into San Francisco and visit the Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park or the San Francisco Zoo.
  • Speaking of zoos, I hear that the Oakland Zoo is one of the best around. I’m hoping to get there this summer myself!
  • I also just stumbled across this fab little site called California Day Trips. It is full of great resources from beach to mountain spots to explore as well as various amusement parks and even local events.

Hang out locally

Raging Waters is a great way to cool off in Sacramento. They are offering a great deal right now where you buy a day and get a season pass for free! It’s a pretty great deal.

Golfland Sunsplash in Roseville offers fun in the sun too!

How about a little river fun? You can get out there via kayak or raft. River Rat off of Fair Oaks and Sunrise offers rentals as does American River Rafting on Sunrise Blvd. These are both very family friendly and the waters are not white water conditions at all. If you are looking for something more advanced {for the bigger kids}, check out White Water Voyages or Whitewater Excitement.

Check out your local community pool. I hear that many might close due to budget issues {boo, hiiissss} but check, you never know what might change. In El Dorado Hills, you can check out the CSD website by clicking here. For info on Folsom, click here. For info on Cameron Park, click here. Sacramento has several community pools, click here for locations, times and entry fees.

How about a day of berry picking? Of course a picnic lunch is in order. Patricks Berry Farm in Camino is a fun day trip and you are also surrounded by beautiful Apple Hill. The location can’t be beat. American River Cherry Company got a nice little plug in Sunset Magazine. Call before heading out to do some berry picking as these places have estimated opening dates in the next week but things can change.

Something on our Summer to do list is the drive-in movies. I have not been to a drive-in movie in over 20 years {wow .. really?}. I think my kids would love it!!

These are just a few of so many ideas of how to spend the dog days of summer. What do you have planned? I’d love to hear of any local favorite things to do. Please share ;)

Williams Sonoma Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake

My little dude loves coffee cake. So much in fact that it is in his top 3 fave foods! Today was a rainy summer day {odd cause it was 100 degrees 3 days ago!} so we took advantage of the rain and stayed indoors and made this yummy coffee cake. Of course we had it for desert since we didn’t make it until late this afternoon. I found this adaption over at The Food Librarian. I think it will make a delicious breakfast with some iced coffee in the morning. Mmmm, mmm!

 

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Williams Sonoma Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake
For the filling and topping:
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the cake:
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola or corn oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Oil a 9 1/2- or 10-inch tube pan with sides at least 3 3/4 inches high. Prep the pan by spraying it with Pam with Flour or oil the bottom of the pan.

Filling and topping: In a bowl, stir together the walnuts, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Cake: In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In an electric mixer with paddle, combine the eggs and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly (very slowly) add the oil and vanilla and beat on low speed. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Mix in the sour cream just until no white streaks remain.

Pour about two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth top. Set aside 1/4 cup of the walnut-cinnamon mixture to use as a topping. Sprinkle the remaining mixture evenly over the batter. Insert a small knife about halfway into the batter and gently move it through the walnut-cinnamon filling to create a swirled effect. Pour the remaining batter evenly over the filling and smooth the top with the spatula. The batter will not cover the filling completely. Sprinkle evenly with the reserved topping.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides and center tube of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Invert to remove and reinvert so it cools on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

I pinned this some time ago on Pinterest but didn’t get around to making it until tonight and I am so glad that I did. YUM! I will be making it again for sure. I grilled up some BBQ chicken on the Foreman {our grill is out of propane so I had to improvise with BBQ sauce and the Foreman.} It was easy to make and super filling. Plus, I feel like it was pretty darn healthy.

 

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BBQ Chicken Salad with Quinoa  - recipe from What Gaby’s Cooking

Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup shredded BBQ chicken
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 2 tbsp White Cheddar cheese, shredded {I had mexican cheese on hand so I used that}
  • 2-4 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, corn, black beans, chicken and avocado. Season with salt and pepper
  2. Transfer mixture onto a bowl and top with shredded cheese, BBQ sauce, scallions and cilantro.
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature

For the Love of Red, White and Blue

Last year we kicked off our first annual 4th of July Block Party. I have a sweet friend and neighbor that really ran the show but I like to say that I am her right hand girl ;) Really cause her and I are the ones who are kinda party planning obsessed. This could be good .. could be bad ;) She is due with baby #3 on July 4th so I have offered to help more this year although she is not willing to hand over the reigns .. no way, uh uh!!  Its baby #3, she’s pretty much a professional on multi tasking so I am sure it will all go off without a hitch. Plus, I am totally willing to hold the baby if she needs to free up her hands. Yes, I am selfless that way. Isn’t that what friends are for?? Yes, I think so.

Now of course aside from the magazines and millions of blog that offer fun and fabulous decorating ideas — we now have Pinterest. Awe Pinterest. How I love you!! Some of the ideas are simple and some require Martha Stewart like abilities. I’d like to say that I am somewhere in the middle. Plus, I’m on a budget and some of these ideas can get rather pricey. I will let you in on a little secret, the $1 store is a fabulous resource for things like decor, bubbles and party ware. Perfect!!

Here are some other fun and fabulous red, white and blue party ideas.

I love these cute goody bag toppers found on Etsy.

How about some Krafty firecracker cupcakes over at Kraft Foods?

Recipe Girl has a recipe for red, white and blue Sangria that looks super refreshing!

How about some fruit salad using star cookie cutters? That is what Wit & Whistle did and it is a super cute idea for a summer staple – watermelon!!

I love adding color {and something sweet} to popcorn. A friend showed me this idea at her daughter’s 1st bday and I was hooked!  At the time it was red & pink for Valentine’s but the red, white and blue idea works wonderfully! This idea would be so cute as a favor at the end of a festive 4th of July party. Bloom Designs even offers the printables for creating your own goodies.

Are you a mantel changer? If you are then this is for you!! Landee See, Landee Do shared this printable on her blog.

Polkadots on Parade also has some super cute printables to share.

Room to Inspire put together these Red Vine bunches using strips of 4th of July inspired scrap paper. Easy and who doesn’t love Red Vines? Yum!!

Family Fun is always full of creative ideas for the holidays. I love these ice cream sandwiches.

Another refreshing treat on a hot summer day is popsicles. These are colorful and sure to hydrate on a hot day!

Wood n’ Stiches has some of the cutest wood signs and blocks for every occasion. This is one of many that I found for Independence Day.

The ideas go on and on … and on!! I love entertaining and themes pretty much rock my world. I know, silly perhaps but oh so true!! What do you do to celebrate Independence Day? I’d love to here your ideas, tips, etc.

Also, if you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, click here {beware .. I’m an addict and I have lots of pins so you might be here for awhile;)}